Skip to main content

Full text of "Country reports on human rights practices : report submitted to the Committee on Foreign Affairs, U.S. House of Representatives and Committee on Foreign Relations, U.S. Senate by the Department of State in accordance with sections 116(d) and 502B(b) of the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961, as amended"

See other formats


M-v 1l^/i-\5-'^"\^-\l 



102d Congress JOINT COMMITTEE PRINT 

2d Session 



COUNTRY REPORTS ON HUMAN RIGHTS 
*"^^— PRACTICES FOR 1991 



9 2 005 

REPORT 

SUBMITTED TO THE 

COMMITTEE ON FOREIGN AFFAIRS 
HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES 

AND THE 

COMMITTEE ON FOREIGN RELATIONS 
U.S. SENATE 

BY THE 

DEPARTMENT OF STATE 

IN ACCORDANCE WITH SECTIONS 116(d) AND 502B(b) OF THE 
FOREIGN ASSISTANCE ACT OF 1961, AS AMENDED 

VtHliMtNF DQCy. 

COLLECTION 



9^ 




MAR 1 ^ 1<^^^ 

FEBRUARY 1992 . ^„™ 

Printed for the use of the Committee on For^^Tfl^frsHirfd Forei^ 
Relations of the House of Representatives and the Senate respectively 

UMASS/AMHERST « 



31EDtb01b7b'^lE3 



102d Coneress 
2d Session ' JOINT COMMITTEE PRINT 



COUNTRY REPORTS ON HUMAN RIGHTS 
PRACTICES FOR 1991 



REPORT 

SUBMITTED TO THE 

COMMITTEE ON FOREIGN AFFAIRS 
HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES 

AND THE 

COMMITTEE ON FOREIGN RELATIONS 
U.S. SENATE 

BY THE 

DEPARTMENT OF STATE 

IN ACCORDANCE WITH SECTIONS 116(d) AND 502B(b) OF THE 
FOREIGN ASSISTANCE ACT OF 1961, AS AMENDED 




FEBRUARY 1992 



Printed for the use of the Committee on Foreign Affairs and Foreign 
Relations of the House of Representatives and the Senate respectively 



U.S. GOVERNMENT PRINTING OFFICE 
50-726 WASHINGTON : 1992 



For sale by the U.S. Government Printing Office 
Superintendent of Documents. Congressional Sales Office, Washington, DC 20402 
ISBN 0-16-037393-X 



COMMITTEE ON FOREIGN AFFAIRS 



DANTE B. FASCELL, Florida, Chairman 



LEE H. HAMILTON, Indiana 

GUS YATRON, Pennsylvania 

STEPHEN J. SOLARZ, New York 

HOWARD WOLPE, Michigan 

SAM GEJDENSON, Connecticut 

MERVYN M. DYMALLY, California 

TOM LANTOS, California 

ROBERT G. TORRICELLI, New Jersey 

HOWARD L. BERMAN, California 

MEL LEVINE, California 

EDWARD F. FEIGHAN, Ohio 

TED WEISS, New York 

GARY L. ACKERMAN, New York 

JAIME B. FUSTER, Puerto Rico 

WAYNE OWENS, Utah 

HARRY JOHNSTON, Florida 

ELIOT L. ENGEL, New York 

ENI F.H. FALEOMAVAEGA, American 

Samoa 
GERRY E. STUDDS, Massachusetts 
AUSTIN J. MURPHY, Pennsylvania 
PETER H. KOSTMAYER. Pennsylvania 
THOMAS M. FOGLIETTA, Pennsylvania 
FRANK McCLOSKEY, Indiana 
THOMAS C. SAWYER, Ohio 
DONALD M. PAYNE, New Jersey 
BILL ORTON, Utah 

(Vacancy) 

John J. Brady, 



WILLIAM S. BROOMFIELD, Michigan 

BENJAMIN A. OILMAN, New York 

ROBERT J. LAGOMARSINO, California 

WILLIAM F. GOODLING, Pennsylvania 

JIM LEACH, Iowa 

TOBY ROTH, Wisconsin 

OLYMPIA J. SNOWE, Maine 

HENRY J. HYDE, Illinois 

DOUG BEREUTER, Nebraska 

CHRISTOPHER H. SMITH, New Jersey 

DAN BURTON, Indiana 

JAN MEYERS, Kansas 

JOHN MILLER, Washington 

BEN BLAZ, Guam 

ELTON GALLEGLY, California 

AMO HOUGHTON, New York 

PORTER J. GOSS, Florida 

ILEANA ROS-LEHTINEN, Florida 



Jr., Chief of Staff 



COMMITTEE ON FOREIGN RELATIONS 



CLAIBORNE PELL, Rhode Island, Chairman 



JOSEPH R. BIDEN, Jr., Delaware 
PAUL S. SARBANES, Maryland 
ALAN CRANSTON, California 
CHRISTOPHER J. DODD, Connecticut 
JOHN F. KERRY, Massachusetts 
PAUL SIMON, Illinois 
TERRY SANFORD, North Carolina 
DANIEL P. MOYNIHAN, New York 
CHARLES S. ROBB, Virginia 
HARRIS WOFFORD, Pennsylvania 

Geryld B. Christianson, Staff Director 
James P. Lucier, Minority Staff Director 



JESSE HELMS, North Carolina 
RICHARD G. LUGAR, Indiana 
NANCY L. KASSEBAUM, Kansas 
LARRY PRESSLER, South Dakota 
FRANK H. MURKOWSKI, Alaska 
MITCH McCONNELL, Kentucky 
HANK BROWN, Colorado 
JAMES M. JEFFORDS, Vermont 



(II) 



FOREWORD 



The country reports on human rights practices contained herein 
were prepared by the Department of State in accordance with sec- 
tions 116(d) and 502B(b) of the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961, as 
amended. They also fulfill the legislative requirements of section 
31 of the Bretton Woods Agreements Act and section 505(c) of the 
Trade Act of 1974, as amended. 

The reports cover the human rights practices of all nations that 
are members of the United Nations and a few that are not. They 
are printed to assist Members of Congress in the consideration of 
legislation, particularly foreign assistance legislation. 



Dante B. Fascell, 
Chairman, Committee on Foreign Affairs. 
Claiborne Pell, 
Chairman, Committee on Foreign Relations. 

(in) 



LETTER OF TRANSMITTAL 



Department op State, 
Washington, DC, January 30, 1992. 
Hon. Thomas S. Foley, 
Speaker, House of Representatives. 
Hon. Claiborne Pell, 
Chairman, Committee on Foreign Relations, 

Dear Sirs: In accordance with sections 116(d)(1) and 502(b) of 
the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961, as amended, and section 505(c) 
of the Trade Act of 1974, as amended, I am transmitting the 
Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 1991. 

Sincerely, 

Janet G. Mullins, 
Assistant Secretary, Legislative Affairs. 
Enclosure. 

(V) 



INTRODUCTION 



1991 HUMAN RIGHTS REPORT 



This report is svibmitted to the Congress by the Department of 
State in compliance with Sections 116(d)(1) and 502B(b) of the 
Foreign Assistance Act of 1961, as amended.* The legislation 
requires human rights reports on all countries that receive aid 
from the United States and all countries that are members of 
the United Nations. In the belief that the information would 
be useful to the Congress and other readers, we have also 
included reports on the few countries which do not fall into 
either of these categories and which thus are not covered by 
the Congressional requirement. 

Congress amended the Foreign Assistance Act with the foregoing 
sections of law so as to to be able to consult these reports 
when considering assistance programs for specific foreign 
countries. One of the very important consequences — perhaps 
unintended — of these legislative provisions is that they have 
made human rights concerns an integral part of the State 
Department's daily reporting and daily decisionmaking. A human 
rights officer in an Embassy overseas who wants to write a good 
annual human rights report on the country in which he or she 
works must carefully monitor and observe human rights 
developments throughout the year on a daily basis. As a 
consequence he or she will report on such developments whenever 
something of human rights significance happens in the country 
of assignment. In the past 13 years, the State Department has 
become decidedly better informed on and sensitized to human 
rights violations as they occur around the globe. 



* Section 116(d)(1) of the Foreign Assistance Act provides as 
follows : 

X 

"The Secretary of State shall transmit to the Speaker of the 
House of Representatives ard the Committee on Foreign Relations 
of the Senate, by January 31 of each year, a full and complete 
report regarding. . . 

"(1) the status of internationally recognized human 
rights, within the meaning of subsection (a)... 

(A) in countries that received assistance under this part, 
and 

(B) in all other foreign countries which are members of 
the United Nations and which are not otherwise the subject of a 
human rights report under this Act." 

Section 502(B) (b) of the Foreign Assistance Act provides as 
follows : 

"The Secretary of State shall transmit to Congress, as part of 
the presentation materials for security assistance programs 
proposed for each fiscal year, a full and complete report, 
prepared with the assistance of the Assistant Secretary of 
State for Human Rights and Humanitarian Affairs, with respect 
to practices regarding the observance of and respect for 
internationally recognized human rights in each country 
proposed as a recipient of security assistance." 

(VII) 



VIII 



For most of the Twentieth Century the principal ideological 
challenge to the cause of democracy and respect for human 
rights has come from the doctrines laid down and the movement 
created at the beginning of the century by Vladimir Lenin. The 
horrors of World War II, devastating as they were to those 
directly affected, were, as to their impact, limited in time 
and place. It was Lenin and Communism which cast the longest 
shadow by far, influencing developments across the entire globe 
decade after decade. 

Hand in hand with Communism's messianic promise came the 
dreaded secret police apparatus, whose task it was to repress 
all dissenting views and thus deprive all those under its rule 
of basic human rights. In these volumes we have during the 
last 4 years chronicled the significant changes effected in the 
state and party created by Lenin, the loosening of totalitarian 
rule under the leadership of Mikhail S. Gorbachev. We need now 
to take note of the poignant events of 1991, which brought 
Lenin's social experiment to an end in the very country which 
gave it birth. 

In this account of human rights developments we should take 
special note of the event on August 22, 1991, when the statue 
of Felix Dzherzhinsky was toppled from its pedestal in front of 
the KGB headquarters in Moscow. "Iron Felix," Lenin's secret 
police chief and the founder of a network of agents of brutal 
repression which spanned the globe, and which as late as August 
20 had tried to impose its will on the Soviet Union, had 
finally been removed from his place of honor. It was a 
symbolic act, but it duly marked the end of an era. 

Yet, far from its place of birth, Leninism, though in decline, 
still is the faith in whose name people are being repressed. 
And there are other less traditional challenges to human rights 
as well as potential new challenges. 

Now that the Albanian people have put their country on the road 
to democracy, the set of beliefs which originated on the 
European continent and which Stalin dubbed Marxism-Leninism has 
by and large disappeared from Europe. As a foreign import it 
survives, however, in China, where it controls the lives of 
one-fifth of humankind, and in four other countries: North 
Korea, Cuba, Vietnam, and Laos. The faith which once inspired 
the movement is long gone. Communism is today more a system 
for the exercise of power by aging ruling elites, which are 
increasingly out of touch with the thinking of their subjects 
but still try to use the power which they possess to suppress 
all independent thought. 

Repressive government is, however, not limited to the countries 
which still espouse Leninist principles. Dictatorships 
offering unicjue ideologies of their own, or no ideology at all, 
continue to exist. Burma, whose imprisoned popular leader, 
Aung San Suu Kyi, received the Nobel Peace Prize, attracted 
particular attention in 1991. So did, of course, the one-man 
dictatorship of Iraq. These are merely two examples of a 
category of countries in which, either in the name of a 
religious or a secular ideology or without any ideological 
commitment, all opposition to the State and all independent 
institutions are repressed through a pervasive secret police or 
domestic spy apparatus which instills fear in the citizenry. 

Between the totally repressive dictatorships, on the one hand, 
and the democracies, on the other, there is the vast array of 
authoritarian regimes, regimes which do not seek to control all 
forms of social interaction in their countries but which will 
carefully guard their position and prerogatives against any 
group that seeks to replace them. The number of regimes in 



IX 



this category is in decline, particularly in Africa, where 
multiparty democracy and free elections have in a growing 
number of countries replaced one-man rule and rigged elections. 
Sub-Saharan Africa continued in 1991 as the region in which 
democracy and respect for human rights are making new strides 
forward. Zambia, where a long-established one-party regime was 
overwhelmingly. defeated in a free and fair election, is a 
particularly noteworthy case in point. 

Although democracy provides the foundation on which a system of 
government respectful of human rights can be built, the mere 
fact that the executive and legislative leaders of a country 
are chosen in free and fair elections does not necessarily 
guarantee that the fundamental freedoms and human rights of all 
citizens will be fully protected. This is particularly true in 
the absence of an independent judiciary capable of safeguarding 
the rights of citizens against actions by the executive or 
legislative branches which are in conflict with internationally 
recognized human rights standards. 

The ascendancy of democracy throughout the world is 
unquestionably good news for human rights. We must note, 
however, that even democratically elected governments can be 
guilty of serious human rights violations. New democracies, in 
particular, may not as yet have the institutional safeguards in 
place which protect against the arbitrary use of executive 
power, particularly by security forces. The most common such 
human rights violations are the use of undue pressure or even 
torture to obtain confessions from persons suspected of having 
committed serious crimes, particularly those accused of 
terrorism. The more serious the terrorist threat, the greater 
the number of incidents of police abuse. (Police abuse and 
torture are, of course, also commonplace under authoritarian 
and totalitarian rule.) 

In the absence of an independent judiciary and solidly rooted 
democratic popular instincts in the new democracies, the recent 
advances are by no means secure. The danger of relapses into 
authoritarian rule are greatest where the expectations for 
early economic improvements have been disappointed. The 
challenge to the world's established democracies is to help 
those new to the fold to sustain themselves. 

The sharp decline in the influence of the worldwide Communist 
movement has not only spelled the end of Leninist dictatorships 
in many countries but has also caused violent conflicts and 
human rights abuses based on political ideology to decline 
worldwide. At the same time, regrettably, we have witnessed an 
upsurge on all continents of serious armed clashes and human 
rights abuse stemming from ethnic and religious differences. 
The creation of mechanisms to help resolve disputes based on 
ethnicity and religion and efforts to combat intolerance are 
undoubtedly in the forefront of the challenges now facing the 
international community. 

To sum up, the year 1991 was one of great progress for the 
cause of democracy and human rights worldwide. But the 
problems faced by the world in consolidating such progress and 
dealing with old and new threats to fundamental freedoms must 
not be underestimated. 

Richard Schifter 

Assistant Secretary of State for 

Human Rights and Humanitarian Affairs 



CONTENTS 



Page 

Foreword HI 

Letter of Transmittal V 

Introduction VII 

Africa: 

Angola , 1 

Benin 10 

Botswana 17 

Burkina Faso 25 

Burundi 32 

Cameroon 42 

Cape Verde 55 

Central African Republic 61 

Chad '^1 

Comoros 80 

Congo 86 

Cote d'lvoire 93 

Djibouti 102 

Equatorial Guinea 110 

Ethiopia 118 

Gabon •• 133 

Gambia, The 141 

Ghana 149 

Guinea 159 

Guinea-Bissau 168 

Kenya 174 

Lesotho 190 

Liberia 199 

Madagascar 210 

Malawi 220 

Mali 230 

Mauritania 239 

Mauritius 250 

Mozambique 257 

Namibia 268 

Niger 278 

Nigeria 286 

Rwanda 302 

Sao Tome and Principe 312 

Senegal 317 

Seychelles 327 

Sierra Leone 336 

Somalia 344 

South Africa 352 

Sudan 376 

Swaziland 392 

Tanzania 402 

Togo 414 

Uganda 425 

Zaire 437 

Zambia 449 

Zimbabwe 460 

Central and South America: 

Antigua and Barbuda 473 

Argentina 478 

(XI) 



xn 

Page 

Central and South America — Continued 

Bahamas, The 487 

Barbados 495 

Belize 500 

Bolivia 506 

Brazil 513 

Chile 524 

Colombia 534 

Costa Rica 546 

Cuba 553 

Dominica 567 

Dominican Republic 572 

Ecuador 582 

El Salvador 592 

Grenada 607 

Guatemala 613 

Guyana 625 

Haiti 633 

Honduras 643 

Jamaica 656 

Mexico 664 

Nicaragua 678 

Panama 690 

Paraguay 699 

Peru 708 

St. Kitts and Nevis 723 

St. Lucia 727 

St. Vincent and the Grenadines 732 

Suriname 737 

Trinidad and Tobago 746 

Uruguay 755 

Venezuela 762 

East Asia and the Pacific: 

Australia 772 

Brunei 780 

Burma 786 

Cambodia 798 

China 809 

China (Taiwan only) 834 

Fiji 848 

Indonesia 859 

Japan 876 

Kiribati 883 

Korea, Democratic People's Republic of 887 

Korea, Republic of 895 

Laos 907 

Malaysia 915 

Marshall Islands 929 

Micronesia, Federated States of 933 

Mongolia 937 

Nauru 943 

New Zealand 947 

Papua New Guinea 952 

Philippines 961 

Singapore 977 

Solomon Islands 991 

Thailand 996 

Tonga 1013 

Tuvalu 1017 

Vanuatu 1021 

Vietnam 1026 

Western Samoa 1037 

Europe and North America: 

Albania 1042 

Austria 1052 

Belgium 1058 

Bulgaria 1064 

Canada 1073 



XIII 

Page 

Europe and North America — Continued 

Cyprus 1078 

Czech and Slovak Federal Republic 1085 

Denmark 1094 

Estonia 1099 

Finland 1104 

France 1109 

Germany : 1115 

Greece 1122 

Hungary 1132 

Iceland ; 1139 

Ireland 1143 

Italy 1149 

Latvia 1157 

Liechtenstein 1163 

Lithuania 1167 

Luxembourg 1174 

Malta 1178 

Netherlands, The 1183 

Norway 1189 

Poland 1195 

Portugal (includes Macau) 1207 

Romania 1218 

Spain 1229 

Sweden 1236 

Switzerland 1242 

Turkey 1247 

Union of Soviet Socialist Republics 1267 

United Kingdom (includes Hong Kong) 1292 

Yugoslavia 1309 

Near East, North Africa, and South Asia: 

Afghanistan 1326 

Algeria 1334 

Bahrain 1344 

Bangladesh 1353 

Bhutan 1367 

Egypt 1374 

India ■. 1388 

Iran 1407 

Iraq 1419 

Israel and the occupied territories 1430 

Jordan 1456 

Kuwait 1466 

Lebanon 1485 

Libya 1495 

Maldives 1502 

Morocco 1509 

The Western Sahara 1523 

Nepal 1526 

Oman 1539 

Pakistan 1548 

Qatar 1569 

Saudi Arabia 1576 

Sri Lanka 1589 

Syria 1604 

Tunisia 1615 

United Arab Emirates 1627 

Yemen, Republic of 1635 

Appendixes: 

A. Notes on preparation of the reports 1646 

B. Reporting on worker rights 1650 

C. Selected international human rights agreements 1652 

D. Explanation of statistical tables 1657 

E. U.S. bilateral assistance, fiscal years 1990 and 1991 1658 



ANGOLA* 



During the first part of 1991, the Government of the People's 
Republic of Ai^gola (GPRA) remained under the control of the 
sole legal political party, the Popular Movement for the 
Liberation of Angola-Workers Party (MPLA-PT) . President Jose 
Eduardo dos Santos continued to act as both Head of State and 
chief of the MPLA-PT. All major policy decisions were taken by 
a small group within the party, which also controlled all means 
of mass communication. 

The 16-year armed conflict between the GPRA and the armed 
opposition, the National Union for the Total Independence of 
Angola (UNITA) , also continued in early 1991. UNITA remained 
in control of the southeastern quarter of Angola and portions 
of the north, and increased its activity in central Angola. 
Heavy fighting erupted around the eastern provincial capital of 
Luena in early April and continued until the cease-fire on May 
15, resulting in heavy civilian casualties and the flight of 
large numbers of additional refugees to Zambia. According to 
the United Nations, the last of the Cuban troops who remained 
in Angola in support of FAPLA departed on May 27, more than a 
month before the deadline specified in the New York Accords of 
December 22, 1988. 

In 1991, two related major events significantly altered the 
political and military situation in Angola. While the 
administration of the GPRA remained under the control of the 
MPLA, constitutional reforms were enacted in May in the wake of 
the peace negotiations with UNITA, paving the way for future 
multiparty, democratic government. The revised 1991 
Constitution contains provisions for the formation of 
independent political parties and guarantees of freedom of the 
press, the right of free assembly, and the right of workers to 
strike. Subsequent laws provided the legal framework for these 
new provisions. 

On May 31, the GPRA and UNITA signed the Angola Peace Accords, 
which provide for a comprehensive U.N. -monitored cease-fire, 
the release of prisoners (POW's), the formation of a new 
nonpartisan national armed force, and the holding of 
internationally monitored multiparty elections between 
September 1 and November 30, 1992. Under the terms of the 
Accords, until elections the GPRA will retain control of the 
central administration which is being extended to areas 
currently under the control of UNITA. Implementation of the 
Peace Accords is under the authority of the Joint Political 
Military Commission (JPMC) and its subcommissions . 

Angola is potentially one of the richest countries in 
sub-Saharan Africa, with extensive petroleum reserves, rich 
agricultural land, and valuable mineral resources. The civil 
war, combined with the GPRA's command-style economy, has 
devastated the country's infrastructure, led to a return to 
barter in many areas, and forced the GPRA to divert much of its 
revenues, mainly from oil exports, to the military and to 
state-owned enterprises. Expressing a willingness to reform 
the economy, the GPRA in 1991 instituted a series of reforms 



*The United States does not recognize or maintain diplomatic 
relations with the People's Republic of Angola; while it 
maintains a liaison office in Luanda accredited to the Joint 
Political Military Commission overseeing implementation of the 
May 31, 1991, Peace Accords, access to information on the human 
rights situation in Angola continues to be limited. 

(1) 



ANGOLA 

for that purpose, including three devaluations of the currency, 
decontrol of prices on most commodities, and an end to the 
special and complementary supply system. However, serious 
action has yet to be taken on other economic issues, including 
reduction of the size of the public sector and the the shift of 
public expenditure from military to civilian needs. 

The civil war has also taken a devastating toll on the civilian 
population. Estimates of victims since the war began in 1976 
range from 250,000 to 500,000 killed, more than 20,000 children 
orphaned, 30,000 to 50,000 amputees caused by land mines, and 
430,000 refugees. Throughout the war, widespread human rights 
abuses were reported by both sides, ranging from extensive 
violence against civilians and mistreatment of prisoners to 
arbitrary detentions, absence of fair trials, kidnaping and 
forced military service, forced relocation, and restrictions on 
freedom of speech, press, and association. At the beginning of 
1991, a 3-month suspension by the GPRA of a U. N. -sponsored 
famine' rel ief program further endangered the estimated 1.9 
million civilians affected by conflict and drought. 

At the end of 1991, human rights continued to be 
circumscribed. UNITA alleged that civilian security forces 
continued to intimidate its supporters and that the GPRA was 
using its control of the administration to influence the 
elections unduly. The GPRA, in turn, accused UNITA of 
targeting MPLA activists for assassination. Emerging parties 
charged that they were being prevented from establishing 
themselves by discriminatory registration procedures and 
intimidation by security forces as well as by UNITA in the 
interior . 

Nevertheless, the Peace Accords produced significant 
improvements in the human rights situation. By year's end, 
there had been no serious violations of the cease-fire. 
According to the International Committee of the Red Cross 
(ICRC), all POW s but two had been released by the GPRA, and 
interviews with and releases of POW s held by UNITA were 
continuing. UNITA and the GPRA were cooperating in 
mine-clearing operations throughout the country. Under the 
auspices of the JPMC, UNITA and the GPRA had agreed on a 
calendar for elections and on programs for integration of the 
police and extension of the GPRA central administration. 
Training for the new national army had begun, and an electoral 
law had been drafted. While the MPLA retained control of 
government structures and the media, 26 new political parties 
had announced their intention to become established, and 
anti-GPRA propaganda and rallies had occurred without 
interference . 

RESPECT FOR HUMAN RIGHTS 

Section 1 Respect for the Integrity of the Person, Including 
Freedom from: 

a. Political and Other Extrajudicial Killing 

Both GPRA and UNITA forces have in the past carried out 
extrajudicial killings, including summary executions of 
prisoners. Two incidents, one in which UNITA s secretary 
general for Malange province was ambushed and killed in 
September and another in which a UNITA sentry killed a FAPLA 
reserve officer in November, were under review by the JPMC at 
year ' s end . 



ANGOLA 

According to GPRA sources, a former UNITA officer hanged 
himself in Luanda's Catete Road Prison in February; however, 
other sources suggested that torture was the cause of death. 

Press accounts in 1991 repeated earlier allegations that UNITA 
has detained or executed internal opponents of Dr. Jonas 
Savimbi, UNITA' s president (see Section l.d.). 

b. Disappearance 

While both GPRA and UNITA forces engaged in kidnapings or 
clandestine detentions in the past, there is no conclusive 
evidence that either engaged in these practices following the 
cease-fire in May 1991. In 1991 Luis dos Passos, currently 
Secretary General of the Democratic Renewal Party (PRD), and 
another PRD official returned to Luanda. They had been in 
hiding outside Luanda since the failed 1977 coup against the 
GPRA in which they were alleged to have participated. 

c. Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading 
Treatment or Punishment 

There were persistent allegations that the GPRA's State 
Security Service apparatus continued to use torture against 
suspected opponents. Beatings of prisoners and detainees by 
police and prison officials is reportedly common. However, the 
use of torture and other mistreatment of prisoners has 
reportedly declined since the Peace Accords. Released FAPLA 
prisoners have also alleged that beatings, torture, and 
execution were conducted by UNITA. 

The GPRA Ministry of State Security (MINSK) was formally 
abolished by Presidential decree in December 1990, and many of 
its functions assumed by the Ministry of Interior. 

d. Arbitrary Arrest, Detention, or Exile 

In 1991 the laws on arrest and detention appeared to be in 
transition. In early 1991, laws remained in force under which 
persons suspected of committing serious acts against "state 
security" could be held for an initial period of 3 months, 
renewable for a further period of 3 months. Such detainees did 
not need to be presented to a judge within 48 hours of their 
arrest, as stipulated in the Code of Criminal Procedures for 
persons suspected of other crimes. They apparently had no 
right to challenge the grounds of their detention. After 6 
months, the State Security Service had to inform the detainee 
and the public prosecutor of the charges or release the 
suspect. Once the case was presented to the public prosecutor, 
there did not appear to be a specific time limit within which a 
suspect must be brought to trial. 

On October 9, the National Assembly approved laws on detention, 
investigation, search, and arrests. However, at the end of the 
year there was no reliable information available on the effect 
of these actions and legal provisions, especially on the 
practices of detention without charge and other arrest 
procedures . 

The number of political detainees and criminal and military 
prisoners held by both sides at the end of 1990 was estimated 
in the thousands. On February 5, the GPRA released 3,983 
reportedly UNITA prisoners serving sentences at Bentiaba 
rehabilitation center. 



ANGOLA 

Under the terms of the Peace Accords, all civilian and military 
prisoners detained as a consequence of the conflict between the 
GPRA and UNITA were to be released under supervision by the 
ICRC. In late July, the first prisoners on each side were 
released. As of December 24, the ICRC had verified that more 
than 900 POW s had been released. Two POW s are known to be 
still held for crimes allegedly committed in prison, including 
murder. As of the same date, the ICRC had registered 
approxin.ately 2,850 FAPLA and GPRA civilian personnel detained 
by UNITA. Of this number, almost all have been released; 
approximately 120 are still awaiting ICRC interview. 

As in previous years, reports citing UNITA s detention of 
internal opponents of UNITA president Savimbi appeared in the 
press in 1991. The emergent Angolan Democratic Forum (FDA) 
party publicly alleged that UNITA "violated and constantly 
violates human rights," citing detention of UNITA members Tito 
Chingungi and Wilson dos Santos, among others. While Chingungi 
was seen alive in the Jamba area in early 1991, his status and 
that of others allegedly detained by UNITA could not be 
independently verified at year's end. 

e. Denial of Fair Public Trial 

Although the GPRA Constitution provides for an independent 
judiciary, the judiciary has in the past followed MPLA-PT party 
guidelines. The law provides for a public trial and the right 
of the accused to legal counsel; the revised Constitution 
provides for the right of habeas corpus. There is, however, 
insufficient information to determine if, or to what extent, 
these rights are observed in practice in regular criminal and 
civil cases. 

The deterioration of the security situation prior to the 
cease-fire exacerbated the general decline in judicial 
safeguards and due process. Judicial lines of authority are 
unclear, especially since the GPRA's regional military councils 
have in the past been given broad responsibility for the trial 
of offenses against "state security," including "economic 
crimes." It is not known which trials are open to the public 
and under what rules of procedure the various military and 
civilian courts operate, nor to what extent the jurisdiction of 
the military councils may in fact have been reducea, as 
planned, following the cease-fire. A Supreme People's Court, 
described by GPRA President dos Santos as a first practical 
step to an independent judiciary, was established in April 
1990; little information is available on its specific 
functions, but it reportedly handles civil cases only. 

f. Arbitrary Interference with Privacy, Family, Home, or 
Correspondence 

Although the Constitution provides for the inviolability of the 
home and privacy of correspondence, the GPRA has in the past 
conducted arbitrary searches of homes, inspected private 
correspondence, and monitored private communications. No 
recent information is available on these practices. UNITA has 
done the same in areas it controlled; UNITA has also forcibly 
occupied buildings in some provincial capitals. In a serious 
incident in December, UNITA supporters forcibly occupied a 
hotel and several other buildings in Lobito; 4 people were 
killed and more than 20 wounded when GPRA police moved in to 
dislodge them. This incident was successfully resolved by 
UNITA and the GPRA within the JPMC. 



ANGOLA 

g. Use of Excessive Force and Violations of Humanitarian 
Law in Internal Conflicts 

During the initial months of 1991, fighting continued in many 
parts of Angola. Intense fighting around the provincial 
capital of Luena during the final few weeks of the civil 
conflict caused civilian casualties in the hundreds. On May 
15, a de facto cease-fire went into effect, followed by a de 
jure cease-fire on May 31. There have been no serious 
violations to date by the military of either side. 

In 1990 it was estimated that between 1 and 1.5 million 
civilians had been internally displaced by the war, many 
hundreds of thousands located in drought-affected areas. 
Credible reports indicate that the GPRA forcibly displaced 
thousands of civilians, in part to deny UNITA a social base, 
and that UNITA captured thousands of civilians and forced them 
to work on UNITA farms. Following an attack on Ambriz in Zaire 
province in early 1991, UNITA reportedly abducted over 100 
local children to deter a FAPLA counterattack. Both sides 
practiced forced conscription of civilians into their 
respective armies throughout the war. Conscription has been 
discontinued by both sides. 

In September 1990, the GPRA and UNITA agreed to a U.N. relief 
program to provide assistance to affected civilians on both 
sides of the conflict. Amidst mutual recriminations, in 
December 1990 the GPRA cut off the relief program and permitted 
it to resume only in March 1991. The program has been extended 
until the end of 1992. 

The GPRA and UNITA placed thousands of land mines in footpaths 
to agricultural fields during the civil war as part of a 
strategy to deny food to civilians in contested areas. Good 
cooperation between both sides on land mine removal has been 
reported since the cease-fire; however, rural roads and fields 
remain hazardous. 

Section 2 Respect for Civil Liberties, Including: 

a. Freedom of Speech and Press 

Under the previous constitution, the right of free expression 
was protected by law, but censorship, intimidation, and GPRA 
control of the media severely limited this right. The revised 
Constitution also provides for freedom of expression. In 
practice, banners, posters, and public rhetoric highly critical 
of the GPRA have proliferated, with no evidence of government 
interference in the capital; however, UNITA and some of the 
emerging parties have complained of government interference in 
other provinces, citing as an example GPRA refusal to register 
students who openly support UNITA. Some emergent parties also 
allege harassment of their activists in areas controlled by 
UNITA. 

The revised Constitution also guarantees freedom of the press, 
and law 22/91 provides the legal framework by which periodicals 
and publishing companies, as well as foreign journalists and 
publications, are to be registered with the Ministry of 
Information. The establishment of news agencies is still 
reserved to the State. However, there are to date no 
independent publications. 

The government-owned news media remain heavily influenced by 
the GPRA, and almost always paint UNITA in a negative light. 



ANGOLA 

Nevertheless, UNITA officials are often quoted 
straightforwardly in the government media, and increasing air 
time and print space are devoted to UNITA. The media also 
report regularly on third party activity. Hostile rhetoric and 
propaganda still abound on VORGAN (UNITA-controlled radio, 
heard in Luanda) and the FAPLA Armed Forces Radio Program 
"Angola Combatente," despite promises by both sides to refrain 
from such practices. 

The access of political parties to the electronic media for 
campaign purposes remains a contentious issue; the JPMC 
specified in its agreement on the electoral calendar that 
modifications to air time laws may be made to ensure 
"transparency and impartiality of the information media." 

b. Freedom of Peaceful Assembly and Association 

The revised Constitution guarantees the right of peaceful 
assembly and association. Law 16/91 provides for the right to 
assemble in public and in private, a 3-day notification to 
authorities, and penalties for those who interfere in lawful 
demonstrations. The law bars military, paramilitary, or 
militia from participating in demonstrations. However, the law 
also makes participants liable for 'offenses against the honor 
and consideration due to persons and to the organs of 
sovereignty." It is not known how this particular provision is 
being interpreted and applied. 

In practice, the law appears to have been generally respected, 
and most requests for rallies are routinely granted in the 
capital. Denials appear to be based on questions of public 
safety or timeliness of the requests. Police broke up a rally 
in front of the Luanda port because demonstrators gave only 1 
day's notice. Several pro-UNITA demonstrations and others in 
support of emerging parties have been held in Luanda. However, 
UNITA has accused the GPRA of interfering with its planned 
rallies in areas outside the capital, such as Cunene and 
Lobito. Some emerging parties charged that they have not been 
permitted to organize and to hold rallies in UNITA-controlled 
areas . 

c. Freedom of Religion 

Although the Constitution provides for the inviolability of 
freedom of conscience and belief and for separation of church 
and state, the authorities have in the past been critical of 
religious activities. Approximately 85 percent of the Angolan 
population is either Roman Catholic or Protestant, while most 
of the remainder practice a variety of animist beliefs. The 
GPRA has eased its antireligious stance but has yet to restore 
all church properties previously confiscated. Church services 
are held regularly and widely attended. Foreign and Angolan 
religious workers are allowed to carry out normal activities. 
UNITA respects freedom of religion in the areas it controls and 
provides limited administrative support to both Catholic and 
Protestant churches. 

The GPRA has in the past banned smaller religious sects that it 
deemed subversive, such as the Jehovah's Witnesses and the 
Tocoist Church, founded in Angola in 1949. The Tocoists have a 
syncretic blend of Christian beliefs and indigenous religious 
practices. However, recent information indicates that the ban 
on the two sects has been lifted. 



ANGOLA 

d. Freedom of Movement Within the Country, Foreign 
Travel, Emigration, and Repatriation 

Until May 1991, travel throughout Angola was tightly restricted 
by war and by regulations . Under the terms of the Peace 
Accords, free circulation of movement and goods is guaranteed. 
However, the GPRA and some international agencies have charged 
that UNITA has prevented them from entering UNITA-controlled 
areas, or that UNITA requires "visas" for travel into those 
areas and otherwise obstructs the movement of people. 

Angola currently hosts approximately 10,300 Zairian refugees, 
2,000 of which have registered for repatriation to Zaire. 
According to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees 
(UNHCR), most of the more than 1,000 South African refugees 
have returned home on their own; the remainder may choose to 
stay in Angola. There are approximately 430,000 Angolan 
refugees resident in neighboring countries, m.ost of whom have 
been in refugee status for many years. In April 1991, 
following fierce fighting in the Luena area just prior to the 
cease-fire, over 5,000 additional refugees fled to Zambia. In 
May, at the urging of the GPRA, about 600 GPRA soldiers were 
repatriated without UNHCR screening. 

Due to generally poor living conditions and danger posed by 
land mines in their home areas, most of the 430,000 Angolan 
refugees resident in neighboring countries have not yet begun 
returning home in large numbers. At year's end, however, 
several thousand Angolans and Zairians had fled Zaire into 
northern Angola in the wake of Zairian unrest. The UNHCR is 
planning to assist in the repatriaton of approximately 300,000 
refugees which UNHCR estimates will elect to return home in the 
spring of 1992 following the rainy season. 

Section 3 Respect for Political Rights: The Right of Citizens 
to Change Their Government 

In 1991 citizens still did not have this right, and until May 
all political activity was still limited to participation in 
the MPLA-PT or in one of its controlled and sanctioned 
organizations. Groundwork to enable Angolans to change their 
government peacefully was laid in 1991 by the revised 
Constitution, subsequent political laws on political parties, 
and the Peace Accords. At year's end, multiparty elections by 
secret ballot for President and a representative National 
Assembly were tentatively scheduled to take place in September 
1992. The new laws provide for independent poltical parties 
but prohibit regional or tribal parties. At year's end, 26 
parties had announced their intention to become established, 
though some complained they will have difficulty meeting the 
legislated requirements for registration. By December the 
Democratic Renewal Party (PRD) was awaiting certification of 
registration by the People's Supreme Court, the Angolan 
Democratic Party (PDA) had been denied registration, and the 
Allied Party of Angolan Youth, Workers, and Peasants Party 
(PAJOCA) had submitted its application for registraton. 

Section 4 Governmental Attitude Regarding International and 

Nongovernmental Investigation of Alleged Violations 
of Human Rights 

Neither the GPRA nor UNITA permitted independent local human 
rights groups to operate in its respective territory. In the 
past, neither the GPRA nor UNITA would allow international 
nongovernmental human rights researchers into the country. 



ANGOLA 

although the GPRA permitted Africa Watch (AW) personnel to 
travel in requested GPRA areas in late 1990 without an escort. 
AW also requested permission to visit UNITA-control led areas; 
UNITA agreed in principle, but travel permits were not arranged 
during the requested timeframe. The GPRA did not cooperate 
with Amnesty International's request for information regarding 
numbers and identities of released prisoners and in the case of 
one death in custody. 

In 1991 the GPRA Defense and Security Council approved a 
protocol to allow the ICRC to visit state security prisoners, 
and visits took place. 

Section 5 Discrimination Based on Race, Sex, Religion, 
Language, or Social Status 

The Constitution declares that all citizens are "equal before 
the law and enjoy the same rights and are subject to the same 
duties, without distinction as to color, race, ethnic origin, 
sex, place of birth, religion, level of education or social or 
economic status." Because of the unstable situation which 
prevailed in most of Angola during much of the year, there is 
little information available on the existence or extent of 
discrimination on the basis of race, sex, religion, language or 
social status. The number of .assault cases brought by women 
before Angolan courts is reportedly increasing; however, there 
is little information available on the extent of violence 
against women in Angola. 

Section 6 Worker Rights 

a. The Right of Association 

Until 1991 the sole legally recognized trade union organization 
in GPRA-administered Angola was the National Union of Angolan 
Workers (UNTA) , which was formed in the late 1950 's as an 
appendage of the MPLA and became the ruling party's official 
labor wing after Angolan independence in 1975. The monopoly 
position of the UNTA was ensured by the statutory basis of the 
single-union structure. Strikes were illegal and participation 
in strikes punishable by compulsory labor. 

The revised Constitution contains a provision recognizing the 
right of Angolans to form trade unions and to participate in 
trade union activities. New laws on unions and collective 
bargaining have been prepared but have not yet been published. 
By years 's end, there had been no formation of independent 
labor unions as such. However, free labor activity increased 
as individual factories and offices formed their own workers' 
committees. 

The revised Constitution also recognizes the right to strike. 
Law No 23/91 of June 15, 1991 provides the detailed legal 
framework for the right to strike, including a prohibition on 
lockouts, a prohibition on worker occupation of employment 
premises, and protection of nonstriking workers. Strikes by 
certain workers, including military, police, prison workers and 
firefighters are prohibited, and strike limitations are imposed 
on workers in specific sectors affecting infrastructure and 
national defense. 

In fact, numerous strikes occurred before and after the 
promulgation of the new laws. While there were reports of 
scattered incidents of violence between strikers and police or 



ANGOLA 

strikers and nonstr iking workers, there was no GPRA 
interference with strikers in the capital, even in some cases 
in which strikers did not rigorously follow the law. 

b. The Right to Organize and Bargain Collectively 

In 1991 the revised Constitution gave Angolan workers the right 
to bargain collectively. As noted above, new laws on unions 
and collective bargaining have been prepared (but not yet 
published) which, inter alia, prohibit discrimination against 
union members. The GPRA, through its Ministry of Labor and 
Social Security, controls the process of setting wages and 
benefits. Several significant salary increases were granted in 
1991 as a result of negotiations following work stoppages. 

There is no export processing zone. 

c. Prohibition of Forced or Compulsory Labor 

Previous GPRA legislation authorized compulsory labor for 
breaches of labor discipline and participation in strikes. On 
the basis of this legislation, the International Labor 
Organization (ILO) in 1984 and 1990 cited the GPRA for 
violations of ILO Convention 105, which the GPRA ratified in 
1976. The new labor legislation prohibits forced labor. 

d. Minimum Age for Employment of Children 

In 1976 the GPRA ratified ILO Convention 6 governing night work 
of young persons and Convention 7 regarding the minimum age for 
employment at sea. The minimum age for employment of children 
is 16. 

e. Acceptable Conditions of Work 

In 1991 the GPRA established a new minimum monthly wage. This 
minimum wage by itself is not sufficient to support a family, 
and many depend on informal sector trade to ensure a minimal 
standard of living. According to a decree issued in 1982, the 
normal workweek is limited to 44 hours. The workweek is 
limited to 34 hours and 6 days a week for persons aged 14 to 
16, and to 38 hours and 7 days a week for persons aged 16 to 
18. This decree applies to all state institutions, to state, 
semipublic, private, and cooperative undertakings, and to mass 
and social organizations. No information is available on the 
existence or adequacy of national occupational health and 
safety standards nor on actual practice with respect to any 
labor standards. 



10 



BENIN 



In 1991 the Republic of Benin peacefully achieved the agenda 
established at the 1990 National Reform Conference to transform 
the country from a single-party, military-dominated regime to a 
multiparty democracy. Thirteen presidential candidates 
competed in the first round of presidential elections in 
March. In the presidential run-off. Prime Minister Nicephore 
Soglo, who had headed the transitional government, defeated 
decisively President Mathieu Kerekou, Benin's ruler during its 
17 years of Marxist-Leninist rule. Official observers from 
several countries found the elections free and fair. Of the 24 
political parties founded after the 1990 National Reform 
Conference, 16 ran candidates in the February legislative 
elections. No single party won a majority of the 64 seats, and 
21 parties, either alone or in alliance, are represented in the 
new National Assembly. Since its convening in July, the 
National Assembly has asserted its constitutional role as a 
check on the executive branch. 

Benin's armed forces of approximately 8,000 personnel are under 
the direction of a civilian Minister of Defense, while the 
1,500-man police force is under the Minister of the Interior. 
The once-dominant Beninese military continued to maintain a low 
profile in 1991, but their commitment to democratic changes is 
a general source of concern. The new Constitution provides for 
members of the Beninese military, as well as civilian 
officials, to disobey the orders of superiors if obedience 
would result in a serious violation of human rights. The new 
Government's goal is to keep the armed forces professional and 
depoliticized, and Calpinet members are now all civilians. 

Benin's underdeveloped economy is largely based on subsistence 
agriculture, cotton production, regional trade, and small-scale 
offshore oil production. In accordance with World Bank and 
International Monetary Fund agreements, Benin has undertaken an 
austerity program for the purpose, inter alia, of privatizing 
many state-owned enterprises, reducing fiscal expenditures, and 
deregulating trade. Benin achieved an unexpected 3-percent 
growth rate in 1991. Nevertheless, it must still deal with a 
bloated and inefficient bureaucracy, high debt-servicing 
charges, and widespread unemployment, if development 
expectations are to be met. 

The human rights situation in Benin continued to improve 
throughout 1991. The transitional government and the newly 
elected Government respected the fundamental human rights 
provided for in the Constitution of December 1990. The new 
Constitution includes important safeguards prohibiting 
arbitrary detention and making torture a criminal offense; no 
political detainees or prisoners were held during the year. 
Several well-known officials from the previous regime were 
arrested on charges of corruption. The head of the 
now-disbanded Presidential Guard was also arrested on charges 
brought against him by a Guinean who was held without trial 
from 1982 to 1989. At year's end, none of those arrested had 
been tried. 



11 



BENIN 

RESPECT FOR HUMAN RIGHTS 

Section 1 Respect for the Integrity of the Person, Including 
Freedom from: 

a. Political and Other Extrajudicial Killing 

There were no reports of political or other extrajudicial 
killings. However, there were isolated instances of violence 
and at least one death in the northern region in connection 
with the elections during a confrontation between supporters of 
different candidates. In late 1991, the trial of those 
arrested and charged with this violence was in process . 

b. Disappearance 

There were no reports of disappearance. 

c. Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading 
Treatment or Punishment 

The 1990 Constitution forbids torture and cruel, inhuman, or 
degrading treatment. With public attention focused on past 
incidents and on bringing to justice those who committed acts 
of torture under the old regime, there were no reports of 
torture in 1991. Citing the need for legally admissible 
evidence, the Government has moved slowly in investigating 
persons, primarily members of the military, widely believed to 
have committed acts of torture. Moreover, for reasons that 
appear to arise from individual considerations rather than from 
fear of military reprisal, those tortured by the previous 
regime, mainly from the Communist Party of Dahomey, have not 
instituted legal cases. This makes it difficult to bring to 
justice those accused of torture. 

Prison conditions in Benin remained harsh and characterized by 
extensive overcrowding and lack of sanitation and medical 
facilities. The prison diet is grossly inadequate, and 
malnutrition and disease are common among prisoners. 

d. Arbitrary Arrest, Detention, or Exile 

With the release of remaining political prisoners in 1990, 
arbitrary arrest and detention ceased to be practiced by the 
central Government. Procedural safeguards against arbitrary 
arrest include a constitutional provision forbidding detention 
of more than 48 hours without a hearing before a magistrate, 
whose order is required for continued detention. There were no 
reports that this provision was violated, nor were there 
reports of incommunicado detention. 

The 1990 Constitution contains a provision prohibiting the 
Government from exiling any Beninese citizen, and exiles have 
returned to Benin in large numbers since the change in 
government and a presidential amnesty decree of 1990. 

e. Denial of Fair Public Trial 

Benin's legal system is based on French civil law and on local 
customary law. A civilian court system operates on the 
national and provincial levels. Military disciplinary councils 
deal with minor offenses by military members but have no 
jurisdiction over civilians. The judges in the civil courts 
are career magistrates, appointed by the President. Judges are 
administratively under the Ministry of Justice. However, under 



12 



BENIN 

the Constitution, officials are answerable only to the law in 
the carrying out of their duties and may not be removed. 
Serious crimes are first presented to a magistrate who conducts 
an investigation and decides whether there is sufficient 
evidence to warrant a trial. Defendants have the right to be 
present at their trial and to be represented by an attorney, at 
public expense, if necessary. 

Under the new Constitution, the highest courts are the 
Constitutional Court and the Supreme Court, the court of last 
resort in all administrative and judicial matters. The role of 
the Constitutional Court, which has yet to be actually formed, 
is to pass on the constitutionality of Beninese laws, and thus 
to act as the main judicial counterweight to the legislative 
and executive branches of government. Until the Constitutional 
Court is seated, its functions are assumed by the High Council 
of the Republic, a transitional body created under the National 
Reform Conference. The Constitutional Court has a mandate to 
determine the constitutionality of laws which may violate 
fundamental human rights. The Constitution also provides for a 
High Court of Justice — which remained unformed in 1991 — to 
preside over cases of crimes committed against the nation by 
the President or members of the Government. A number of 
judicial codes, including the penal code, were under 
consideration before the Law Committee of the National Assembly 
at year's end. Interim legislation abrogated certain 
unacceptable provisions, including those permitting "People's 
judges . " 

f. Arbitrary Interference with Privacy, Family, Home, or 
Correspondence 

The Constitution provides for the inviolability of private 
property and of the home. Police are required to obtain a 
judicial warrant before entering a private home. No violations 
of this requirement were reported in 1991. There were also no 
reports of governmental interference with private 
correspondence in 1991. 

Section 2 Respect for Civil Liberties, Including 

a. Freedom of Speech and Press 

The Constitution provides for freedom of expression and of the 
press and other media. These rights were respected in 1991. 
Beninese freely discussed politics in public and private forums. 

The Government continued to own and operate the most 
influential media, the local radio and television stations and 
one daily newspaper, but in contrast to the past, official 
journalists extended their coverage of sensitive matters and 
criticized the Government. When government officials 
criticized the official media's coverage of politics in a 
neighboring country, the journalists' union protested 
vigorously, a fact in turn duly reported in the official 
press. Some 20 independent private newspapers, representing a 
variety of viewpoints, circulated in Benin in 1991. The press 
and television aired widely diverging views on the 
constitutional referendum and reported on all political 
parties, including the Communist Party of Dahomey, which had 
been banned under the previous regime. 

There was no censorship of foreign books or artistic works. 
Foreign periodicals were widely available on newsstands, and 



13 



BENIN 

much of the population listens to foreign broadcasts on 
shortwave radio. 

In general, academic freedom is enjoyed in schools and in the 
sole university. University professors are permitted to 
lecture freely in their subject areas, conduct research, draw 
independent conclusions, and form unions. 

b. Freedom of Peaceful Assembly and Association 

The Constitution recognizes the rights of peaceful assembly and 
association. These rights were respected in 1991. Multiple 
political parties exist, as do numerous religious and cultural 
organizations. Only political parties wishing to participate 
in elections need register with the Government. In April 
police dispersed and briefly detained some protesters who were 
demonstrating against the decision of the then President 
Mathieu Kerekou to run for reelection. The demonstrators had 
declined to seek a permit before undertaking to parade in 
central Cotonou. Once the detainees were brought before a 
magistrate, charges were dropped. 

c. Freedom of Religion 

Christianity, Islam, and traditional religions coexist in 
Benin, and adherence to a particular faith does not confer any 
special status or benefit. Religious ceremonies and shrines of 
all faiths are protected by law. There are no restrictions on 
religious ceremonies, teachings, foreign clergy, or conversion 
to any religion. 

d. Freedom of Movement Within the Country, Foreign 
Travel, Emigration, and Repatriation 

Domestic movement is unrestricted. The Government earlier 
dismantled police and gendarmerie roadblocks within the country 
to facilitate free movement, although a number of checkpoints 
remained. Police checkpoints had reappeared by the end of the 
year, however. Passports and exit permits needed for travel 
outside of West African countries are not difficult to obtain. 
Emigration is common. Beninese live and work in neighboring 
countries without jeopardizing their citizenship. 

Benin welcomes refugees and helps to integrate them into 
Beninese society if they choose not to return to their country 
of origin. Refugees who marry Beninese are entitled to 
citizenship. Benin's longstanding refugee population from Chad 
declined from 600 in 1990 to a few dozen in 1991, reflecting 
continued voluntary repatriation. At the end of 1991, a 
political crisis in Togo temporarily brought Togolese refugees 
to Benin, an estimated 15,000 at its peak. The United Nations 
Development Program has handled refugee matters in Benin since 
the office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees 
closed in 1990. > 

Section 3 Respect for Political Rights: The Right of Citizens 
to Change Their Government. 

During 17 years of authoritarian, single-party rule, the 
Beninese were unable to change their government. The 1990 
National Reform Conference and the subsequent transitional 
government laid the groundwork for the creation of a multiparty 
democracy in which citizens in 1991 peacefully changed their 
government in accordance with the new Constitution of December 
1990. Legislative and presidential elections were held in 
February and March respectively. In the presidential 



14 



BENIN 

elections, 13 candidates participated; none achieved an 
absolute majority. President Kerekou, who had brought 
authoritarian rule to Benin, and then Prime Minister Soglo, who 
had been appointed by the National Reform Conference, contested 
a run-off election. Nicephore Soglo won by a two-to-one margin 
in elections by secret ballot that foreign observers from the 
United States, Canada, Cote D'lvoire, France, Germany, and 
Nigeria found to be free and fair. However reluctantly, 
outgoing President Mathieu Kerekou handed over the reins of 
government to President Soglo. The Constitution provides for a 
5-year term for the President, who is limited to two terms of 
office, and for a 4-year term of office for National Assembly 
members, who may serve an unlimited number of terms. 

In the Assembly, 21 parties are represented, with President 
Soglo 's alliance holding the most seats — only 12 out of the 
total of 64. 

Section 4 Governmental Attitude Regarding International and 

Nongovernmental Investigation of Alleged Violations 
of Human Rights 

Several Beninese nongovernmental organizations monitor human 
rights, including the Human Rights Commission, the Study and 
Research Group on Democracy and Economic and Social 
Development, the Association of Christians Against Torture, and 
the League for the Defense of Human Rights in Benin. In 
contrast to the attitude of the former authoritarian 
government, which considered outside investigations into human 
rights unwarranted interference in Benin's internal affairs, 
both the transition government and the newly elected Government 
have welcomed international and nongovernmental scrutiny of 
human rights in Benin. 

Section 5 Discrimination Based on Race, Sex, Religion, 
Language, or Social Status. 

Such discrimination is prohibited in the Constitution and by 
law, and there is no evidence of officially sanctioned 
discrimination. 

Benin has a long tradition of regional rivalry. This led to 
violence during the elections when northerners, who supported 
ex-President Kerekou 's candidacy, and southerners clashed. 
These clashes were most severe in several northern cities and 
led to at least one death. Approximately 6,000 southerners 
fled the north temporarily as a result. Subsequent to 
President Soglo 's election, southerners have reasserted their 
traditional claim to power and relatively few northerners have 
been appointed to senior governmental positions. Nor were any 
northerners elected to leadership positions in the National 
Assembly. The southern third of the country, which was favored 
in the colonial period, has about two-thirds of Benin's 
population and is itself divided among various ethnic and 
religious groups. 

The Constitution specifically states that women are by law the 
equals of men in the political, economic, and social spheres. 
The Government officially encourages opportunities for women, 
and 2 of 20 cabinet ministers are women. Beninese women also 
play a major role in the commercial sector. In rural areas, 
however, they have traditionally occupied a subordinate role 
and are responsible for much of the subsistence farm labor. In 
particular, women have not enjoyed the same educational 



15 



BENIN 

opportunities as men. In some parts of the country, families 
are reluctant to have their daughters educated at all. 

While no studies are available, violence against women, 
including wife beating, occurs, although it is prohibited by 
law. Police and courts are reluctant to intervene in cases of 
domestic violence, considering such affairs to be family 
matters. Female circumcision exists, mostly in the northern 
part of the country. It is both deeply rooted in the 
traditions of certain Beninese cultures, and it is a source of 
income for those who perform the procedure. Efforts of a small 
Beninese nongovernmental committee to reduce the practice 
through educational measures have thus far met with only 
limited success. A conference sponsored by the U.N. 
International Children's Emergency Fund and the Inter-African 
Committee on Women's Health was held in mid-October to set up a 
national committee to address the situation. 

Section 6 Worker Rights 

a. The Right of Association 

The December 1990 Constitution gives workers the freedom to 
organize, to meet, and to strike. In 1974 all preexisting 
unions were absorbed into a single trade union center which for 
17 years was the designated mass organization of a single-party 
Marxist regime. This heretofore sole center, the National 
Workers' Union of Benin (UNSTB) declared its independence from 
the former ruling party in 1990 and claims 26 nationwide 
affiliated unions in Benin. The Confederation of Autonomous 
Unions, a separate group formed in February 1991, represents an 
additional 23 unions, mostly in the public sector. 
Approximately 75 percent of wage earners in the modern sector 
belong to organized labor unions. 

There were a number of strikes in 1991 conducted by labor 
unions in the public sector (teachers, airport workers, civil 
servants in the Ministries of Planning, Finance, Commerce, 
Industry, Education, and Culture, and the Public Treasury) . 
For the most part, strikers were seeking back wages, in many 
cases overdue for a number of years. The Government announced 
in 1991 that it would no longer pay striking public employees 
for time away from the job due to strikes. 

Confederations and individual unions have the right to 
affiliate with international labor movements. In 1990 the 
UNSTB disaffiliated from the Communist-dominated World 
Federation of Trade Unions. 

b. The Right to Organize and Bargain Collectively 

The Beninese Labor Code provides for collective bargaining. 
The Code, which dates from 1967, is basically copied from the 
French colonial labor code, but the Marxist regime ignored many 
of its articles. Individual labor unions are authorized to 
negotiate with employers on labor matters and represent 
workers' grievances to both employers and to the Government, 
with the Government often voluntarily acting as arbitrator. 
The Labor Code prohibits employers from taking union membership 
or activity into account when making decisions on hiring, work 
distribution, professional or vocational training, or 
dismissals. There are no export processing zones. 



16 



BENIN 

c. Prohibition of Forced or Compulsory Labor 

Forced or compulsory labor is prohibited by the Labor Code and 
is not practiced. 

d. Minimum Age for Employment of Children 

The Labor Code prohibits the employment or apprenticeship of 
children under the age of 18 in any enterprise. However, 
enforcement by inspectors from the Ministry of Labor is 
limited, and child labor does occur, especially in rural areas, 
where children below the age of 14 often work on family farms. 
Some child labor occurs in urban areas, primarily in the 
informal sector. For example, street vendors of newspapers, 
smuggled petroleum products, and foodstuffs are frequently 
under the age of 16. 

e. Acceptable Conditions of Work 

Benin's labor force of about 2 million is primarily engaged in 
agriculture (80 percent), with less than 2 percent of the 
population involved in the modern (wage) sector. Many also 
engage in trade activities in the informal sector. For the 
wage sector, the Labor Code establishes a workweek varying 
between 40 hours (nonagricultural employees) and 56 hours 
(security guards), depending on the type of work. The 
Government administratively sets minimum wage scales for a 
number of occupations. Most of those actually employed in the 
wage sector earn a good deal more than the lowest minimum wage, 
which was last set in 1984 and is sufficient only to provide 
rudimentary food and housing for a family. It must be 
supplemented by subsistence farming or small trade in the 
informal sector if a family is to enjoy a decent living. The 
Government supports policies designed to improve the conditions 
of workers in both the agricultural and industrial sectors. 
The Labor Code also establishes health and safety standards, 
but enforcement by inspectors from the Ministry of Labor and 
Social Affairs is limited. 



17 



BOTSWANA 



Botswana is a multiparty democracy. The Constitution vests 
executive power in the President, currently Quett Masire, who 
was reelected in 1989 for a second 5-year term. The President 
selects his Cabinet from members of the National Assembly. 
While there are several active political parties in Botswana, 
in practice the country's politics are dominated by the 
governing Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) . All citizens, 
regardless of race, are free to participate fully in the 
economic and political life of the country. 

Botswana's military, the Botswana Defense Force (BDF), numbers 
about 6,500 soldiers. The Botswana National Police (BNP) 
numbers about 3,000. Both the BDF and BNP are subordinate to 
civilian authority. Episodes of soldiers firing on civilians 
appear to have been effectively halted by new "rules of 
engagement" promulgated last year. The trial of military 
personnel accused of shooting civilians in 1988 and 1990 
resulted in the conviction of one soldier, the acquittal of 
another, and a $400,000 judgment against the BDF. 

Botswana's economy is market oriented with strong encouragement 
for private enterprise. Spurred by diamond revenues, the 
country's economy has expanded rapidly, with real gross 
domestic product (GDP) growth averaging nearly 9 percent 
annually since 1980. Since independence in 1966, per capita 
GDP has increased from $69 to a current figure of about 
$2,400. However, more than 50 percent of the population lives 
outside the formal sector, gaining its livelihood from 
subsistence farming and animal husbandry. Income distribution 
is heavily skewed, with the top 20 percent of the population 
probably earning two-thirds of the total income, with the 
bottom 50 percent earning less than one sixth. 

Botswana's laws and legal system provide for a broad range of 
individual rights and freedoms, which are widely observed in 
practice. However, women face significant legal and practical 
discrimination, and public consciousness of the problem of 
violence against women is growing. There have been some past 
reports of police beatings of detainees, but none in 1991. 
Labor conditions are generally good given the level of economic 
development, although trade unions continue to face certain 
legal restrictions. 

Section 1 Respect for the Integrity of the Person, Including 
Freedom from: 

a. Political and other extrajudicial killing 
There were no reports of such killings. 

b. Disappearance 

There have been no reports of politically motivated 
disappearances since Botswana's independence 25 years ago. 

c. Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading 
Treatment or Punishment. 

In the past, there have been credible reports of police 
beatings of suspects and detainees, which were condemned by 
government officials. Police officers found to have abused 
suspects are subject to both internal disciplinary procedures 
and criminal prosecution. 



18 



BOTSWANA 

No cases have been reported of women being raped or subjected 
to other abuses while in custody. Arrested women are 
immediately placed in the charge of matrons, reducing the 
potential for mistreatment by male police officers. 

Caning is allowed for certain offenses for men below age 40. 
Strict conditions regulate the size of the cane, require 
medical examinations of the prisoner before and after 
punishment, and prescribe strokes only across the buttocks. A 
recent High Court opinion disallows corporal punishment for 
children below 14 which, however, under the rubric of 
"traditional punishment," can still be meted out by parents and 
village headmen. 

d. Arbitrary Arrest, Detention, or Exile 

Citizens are protected from arbitrary arrest under the 
Constitution. An arresting officer must clearly inform the 
person being arrested of the charges and of the right to remain 
silent. An accused person may contact anyone of his choosing. 
In most cases, a suspect must be charged before a magistrate 
within 48 hours of arrest. Bail is allowed, and detainees have 
the right to hire attorneys of their choice. Poor 
communications in rural villages, however, make it difficult 
for detainees to obtain legal assistance. There is no public 
defender service for those unable to afford a lawyer. 

Once a suspect has appeared before a magistrate, he or she may 
be detained only if the magistrate issues a writ of detention, 
valid for 14 days and renewable every 14 days thereafter. 
There have been complaints, including in 1991, that police and 
rangers from the Department of Wildlife have held people 
accused of poaching longer than the prescribed 48 hours. 
Offending police officers have been administratively punished 
or sued successfully in civil actions. 

These restrictions on detention do not apply to illegal 
immigrants (mostly Zimbabweans or Zambians); there are perhaps 
200 to 300 such persons per year. These illegal immigrants are 
usually found in periodic sweeps by the police and deported 
after being held for up to 2 weeks. Botswana's Constitution 
allows the President to declare a person a "prohibited 
immigrant" and order deportation, but this provision has seldom 
been used. No explanation is required nor is any normally 
given, and the order is not subject to judicial review. A 
prohibited immigrant can reenter Botswana only with 
presidential authorization. There was one such case in 1991, 
but the deportee was not named publicly. 

Persons charged under the National Security Act (NSA) must be 
arraigned before a magistrate within 96 hours, and suspects may 
be held indefinitely. However, this Act has rarely been 
invoked. Security cases are often tried under ordinary 
criminal procedures after an initial hearing. 

e. Denial of Fair Public Trial 

Botswana's judiciary is independent of the executive and 
legislative branches of government in both law and practice. 
Botswana has two court systems, the regular courts and the 
customary (traditional) courts. In the regular courts, a 
defendant's right to due process is provided for by law and 
largely honored in practice, although many defendants are not 
apprised of their rights in pretrial or trial proceedings. 



19 



BOTSWANA 

Most trials are held in public, and court records are public. 
However, trials under the National Security Act may be held in 
secret. As a rule, courts appoint public defenders only for 
those charged With capital crimes (murder and treason); 
lawyers in these cases serve on a no fee basis. Thus, those 
charged with noncapital crimes are often tried without legal 
representation if they cannot afford an attorney. However, 
defendants may confront witnesses and present evidence. 

Customary courts usually handle land, marital, and property 
disputes as well as minor crimes. There are clearly defined 
appeal procedures with separate courts of appeal in both 
systems, as well as the possibility of appeals to the High 
Court. Customary courts are open only to members of the tribe 
served by the particular court. The tribal chief presides over 
the court, and there are no attorneys for either side. 

There were no political prisoners reported in Botswana in 1991. 

f. Arbitrary Interference with Privacy, Family, Hom.e, or 
Correspondence. 

These rights are safeguarded by law, and privacy in family 
matters is respected. Court-issued search warrants are 
required, but police officers of the rank of sergeant and above 
can enter, search, and seize property provided they believe "on 
reasonable grounds" that criminal activity is involved, that 
evidence would be lost or compromised by waiting for a warrant, 
and that the evidence is later brought before a magistrate. In 
practice, this means that seizures of property are frequently 
made without resort to search warrants. Evidence gained 
without a warrant is admissible in court. Judges can 
disqualify such evidence if it can be shown that it would not 
likely have been compromised by taking the time to obtain a 
proper warrant. There is no evidence of arbitrary or illegal 
surveillance of persons or their communications. 

Section 2 Respect for Civil Liberties, Including: 

a. Freedom of Speech and Press 

Freedom of speech and press are provided for in the 
Constitution and respected in practice. Opposition viewpoints 
and criticism of the Government are freely expressed. However, 
both the government media and the independent press follow 
unwritten rules against criticizing senior officials directly 
or discussing the personal lives or financial affairs of 
important figures. 

Although the Botswana Press Agency (BOPA) is part of the 
Deparrment of Information and Broadcasting, it functions with a 
great deal of autonomy, and its editorials do not always 
reflect the Government's view. The Government's daily 
newspaper, m.ade available free of charge, consists largely of 
reports of speeches of ministers and other high officials and 
international wire service stories. 

While opposition parties' activities receive adequate press 
coverage, the government media tend to give more space to 
ruling party viewpoints, and the independent press tends to 
present mere balanced coverage. In the past, the Government 
has clashed with the independent press over the proper 
reporting of national security issues. Books and publications 
are not censored. Academic freedom is fully respected. 



20 



BOTSWANA 

although a proposed new law would restrict the right of 
university students to conduct protests on campus. 

b. Freedom of Peaceful Assembly and Association 

Botswana has a long history of peaceful assembly which is 
integral to traditional village life and is exemplified in the 
village meeting, the kgotla. During kgotla meetings, men 
freely question leaders and voice opinions on local politics. 
Women do not typically speak out at kgotla. Permits are 
required for public meetings and demonstrations and are usually 
granted as long as the police believe public order will be 
maintained . 

c. Freedom of Religion 

Freedom of religion is guaranteed. There is no state religion, 
although the majority of the population identify with some 
denomination of Christianity. Hindu, Muslim, and Baha'i groups 
practice their faiths freely. There are no restrictions on 
places of worship, the training of members of clergy, religious 
publishing, religious education, conversion or participation in 
charitable activity. There are no restrictions against 
missionaries or foreign clergy. There is no discrimination 
based on religion. 

d. Freedom of Movement Within the Country, Foreign 
Travel, Emigration, and Repatriation 

Botswana has no restrictions on movement within the country, 
foreign travel, emigration, or the right to return. Passports 
are easily obtained. 

Refugees documented by the United Nations High Commissioner for 
Refugees (UNHCR) are readily accepted into Botswana but are 
normally required to live in the refugee settlement at Dukwe, 
in northeastern Botswana, although the Government may authorize 
them to live elsewhere. Due to past allegations from 
neighboring countries that refugees were using Botswana as a 
launching area for subversive operations beyond Botswana's 
borders, refugees found out of their authorized living areas 
can be declared by the Government to have abandoned their 
refugee status and be deported to neighboring countries. 

Section 3 Respect for Political Rights: The Right of Citizens 
to Change Their Government 

Batswana have the right to peacefully change their government 
through democratic means, although in practice one party, the 
Botswana Democratic Party (BDP), has dominated Parliament since 
independence 25 years ago. Members of Parliament are elected 
by universal suffrage and secret ballot; the President is 
elected by the Parliament. Thirty-four of the 38 members of 
the National Assembly are elected every 5 years; the remaining 
4 are appointed by the President. In the 1989 elections, the 
BDP won 31 of the 34 elective seats. There are currently eight 
active political parties, but only two, the BDP and Botswana 
National Front (BNF) are represented in Parliament. 

Women and minorities legally have the same political rights as 
everyone else. Even though the traditional patriarchal society 
has discouraged women from taking part in politics, women vote 
in greater numbers than men, and the number of positions held 
by women in various institutions is increasing. Women hold 



21 



BOTSWANA 

about 40 percent of the seats in local and district councils, 
and there are two women in Parliament, one of whom is the 
Minister of External Affairs. There are a number of female 
senior lecturers at the university, but as yet few females of 
professorial rank. 

Section 4 Government Attitude Toward International and 

Nongovernmental Investigation of Alleged Violations 
of Human Rights 

Local human rights groups operate freely. Organized in 1989, 
the Botswana Association for Human Rights expects its official 
registration as a nonprofit organization to be completed by the 
end of the year. The goals of the association are to focus 
national attention on laws needing reform, to make 
recommendations to the National Law Reform Committee, to 
heighten public awareness about human rights, and to pressure 
the Government to ratify more of the existing international 
human rights instruments. Independent organizations dealing 
with the rights of women and rural dwellers also exist. 

The Government also permits international organizations 
involved in human rights advocacy to operate in Botswana, 
including the International Committee of the Red Cross, the 
UNHCR, the International Labor Organization (ILO), and others. 
To date, there have been no international investigations of 
human rights violations in Botswana. The Government has stated 
that it would cooperate if there were such an investigation. 

Section 5 Discrimination Based on Race, Sex, Religion, 
Language, or Social Status 

The Tswana majority, comprising about 65 percent of the 
population, has a tradition of peacefully coexisting with the 
largest minority, the Kalanga, which constitutes 25 percent of 
the population. Although ethnic rivalries are not entirely 
absent, no ethnic group suffers from serious discrimination. 
The most prominent complaint comes from the Government's 
refusal to allow instruction in minority languages in schools. 
Groups living in remote areas, including the Kgalagadi and the 
San (the Bushmen), have suffered discrimination in the past in 
access to government services and legal redress, partly because 
of their distance from settled areas and their nomadic 
lifestyle. They are still poorly represented in politics, but 
some are being resettled and are gaining better access to 
government services. 

The Constitution and Penal Code forbid discrimination based on 
color, race, nationality or creed but do not mention 
discrimination based on sex. However, a number of laws and 
customs have the effect of restricting political, social, and 
economic opportunities for women. For example, women married 
under the "in common property" concept become legal minors. 
This means that a married woman may not purchase or sell 
property or make other legally binding agreements without her 
husband's consent. While a woman may enter a binding 
transaction as a public trader, she may become a trader only 7 
with her husband's consent. Under customary law a husband may 
have additional wives after consulting with his first wife and 
the families, although this practice is dying out. 

Marriage license applications are increasingly accompanied by 
explanations of marriage "out of common property" under which a 
woman retains the property she brings to a marriage as well as 



22 



BOTSWANA 

full adult legal standing after marriage. Although frowned 
upon by more traditional families, these marriages are 
increasingly common. 

A woman is required to obtain her husband's permission for the 
use of contraceptives or for operations to prevent conception. 
Under 1991 legislation, abortion is allowed in cases of rape, 
incest, when the physical or mental health of a mother is 
threatened, or when a child will suffer grave physical or 
mental abnormalities. Two physicians must agree that the 
health of the mother or child is threatened. If the health of 
a married couple's child is at risk, or the mother is an unwed 
minor, abortion is a family decision. Otherwise, the law does 
not require the consent of the husband or father. 

The Attorney General maintains that women have no legal 
recourse in sex discrimination cases. However, the recent case 
of a female attorney who challenged the Citizenship Act on 
discrimination grounds was decided in favor of the plaintiff. 
She held that the law discriminated against her by preventing 
her from transmitting Botswana citizenship to her children 
since her husband, the children's father, was not a Botswana 
citizen. The State has appealed the case, arguing that the 
authors of the Constitution did not intend to outlaw 
discrimination based on sex. A long list of laws would have to 
be changed if the decision stands. 

Inheritance laws and customs call for each child to receive a 
share of an estate regardless of sex. The oldest male child 
receives a larger share but is responsible for his widowed 
mother and minor siblings. 

Domestic violence against women is on the increase as Botswana 
society becomes more urban and people live away from constant 
contact with the extended family. Men have traditionally had 
the right physically to "chastise" their wives, although this 
is changing. Since marital problems are considered a problem 
to be dealt with between husband and wife, the police are 
reluctant to intervene. Problems are still frequently settled 
by the extended family, with fully 75 percent of the cases of 
domestic violence brought to police attention withdrawn because 
of family pressure. As a conseqence of these factors, no 
accurate statistics exist on the extent of domestic violence. 

The incidence of rape has grown, with increased depersonalized 
urbanization as a major factor, although increased reporting 
should not be discounted. The maximum penalty is life 
imprisonment with mandatory corporal punishment; the average 
sentence is 4 years with corporal punishment. A form of female 
circumcision exists in Botswana, but it is rarely performed and 
only by a few traditional doctors. 

Concerted government action to improve the status of women has 
been slow in coming. In .1981 the Ministry of Home Affairs 
established a women's affairs unit which published a woman's 
guide to the law and information on the citizenship law. It 
has also done research on such subjects as maternity leave and 
teenage pregnancy. The majority party (the BDP) established a 
women's wing to focus on women's issues in 1987. 

There is no evidence of particular jobs being reserved for 
men. Wom.en are highly visible in the professions, commerce, 
and as laborers, and women's organizations are growing in 
number. The most active group is Emang Basadi, which seeks to 



23 



BOTSWANA 

educate women about their rights, argues for the enforcement of 
fathers' obligations to support their children, and argues for 
day care in institutions that employ large numbers of women, 
like the National University and banks. In addition, numerous 
local women's groups are organized for self-help. 

Section 6 Worker Rights 

a. The Right of Association 

Workers (except for pensionable government workers) are free to 
establish or join labor unions. Government workers may form 
associations which function as quasi-unions . Unions are well 
developed in mining, railways, banking, and among government 
manual workers. There is one major confederation of trade 
unions, the Botswana Federation of Trade Unions (BFTU). Trade 
unions in Botswana are independent of government control or 
party affiliation and actively seek to represent their members' 
interests. Unions may employ administrative staff, but 
Botswana law requires elected union officials to work full time 
in the industry the union represents. This severely limits 
union leaders' effectiveness and has been criticized by the 
International Confederation of Free Trade Unions (ICFTU). 

In addition, the law severely restricts the right to strike. 
Legal strikes are theoretically possible after an exhaustive 
arbitration process, but there has never been a legal strike. 
There were three notable wildcat strikes in 1991 in the mining 
sector. Management maintained that all three were illegal, and 
all were settled peacefully (but with few gains for the 
strikers). In November unskilled and semiskilled government 
workers struck for 1 week over long-standing wage demands. All 
workers returned to their jobs without winning salary 
increases, and the Government is pursuing legal actions against 
the strike organizers for not following procedures stipulated 
by the Labor Code. 

Unions may freely join international organizations, and labor 
representatives regularly attend international conferences. 

Discussions continued in 1991 between government, employers, 
and trade unions over reform of labor laws. Unions say that 
elected officials should be able to serve members' needs full 
time. Unions are also asking for severance pay greater than 
the usual 2 months' pay. Finally, unions want restrictions on 
the Labor Commissioner's right to attend BFTU meetings. 

b. The Right to Organize and Bargain Collectively 

Although employers are required under the Trade Union Act to 
bargain with any trade union that organizes at least 25 percent 
of the work force in a given industry, the union's ability to 
demand collective bargaining depends on its overall strength. 
Collective bargaining is common in the mining sector, where 
trade unions are relatively strong, but is virtually 
nonexistent in most others. 

Public sector salaries are set by the Government and formerly 
served as a benchmark for private sector wages. However, 
Parliament voided that policy in 1990, and pay raises and 
inflation indexing must now be negotiated separately in the 
private sector. In early 1991 government employees received 
raises ranging from 13 percent at the lowest levels to 90 
percent at executive levels. 



24 



BOTSWANA 

Although the law prohibits employers from dismissing workers 
for union activities, there is disagreement over how well they 
are enforced. Other reasons are often given for dismissals so 
it is difficult for dismissed employees to prove that union 
activities were the real reason. Dismissals may be appealed to 
labor officers or civil courts, but labor officers rarely do 
much more than order 2 months' severance pay. Labor law 
practice in Botswana's only export processing zone, in 
Selebi-Phikwe, is the same as in the rest of the country. 

c. Prohibition of Forced or Compulsory Labor 

Forced or compulsory labor is not practiced in Botswana and is 
specifically forbidden by the Constitution. 

d. Minimum Age for Employment of Children 

Botswana law prohibits the employment of children 12 years of 
age and under by anyone except members of the child's immediate 
family. No one under the age of 15 may be employed in any 
industry, and only persons over 16 may be employed in night 
work. No person 16 or younger is permitted to work in 
hazardous jobs, including mining. Botswana law also protects 
young people from recruiters for jobs outside the country. 
Scattered violations of age standards occur in small-scale and 
family enterprises and in the informal sector. The Department 
of Labor is insufficiently staffed to enforce full compliance. 
Although education is not compulsory, it is almost universally 
available, and most children attend school at least through the 
seventh grade. The Government is rapidly making 9 years of 
free public education universally available. 

e. Acceptable Conditions of Work 

Minimum monthly wages are established by law for all but 
agricultural and domestic workers. The level varies by 
industry, and the lowest minimum is barely adequate for one 
person to maintain a decent standard of living in an urban 
environment. In most cases, workers must supplement this with 
a second job or subsistence farming. Most families have more 
than one wage earner . 

The law mandates a maximum 48-hour workweek with provisions for 
overtime pay (time and a half) for more than 48 hours. Most 
major employers use the standard workweek, but some smaller 
firms refuse to pay overtime, and action is seldom taken 
against them. The Government establishes basic job health and 
safety standards. Most industries adhere to the standards, 
although compliance by construction firms is sometimes lax. 
Nevertheless, industrial accident rates are not high on the 
whole. While workers who complain about hazardous conditions 
have legal protection from dismissal, application of this 
enforcement has been uneven. Enforcement of safety standards, 
which is divided between the Departments of Labor and Mines and 
the Ministry of Health, has been hampered by inadequate 
staffing. 



2$ 



BURKINA FASO 



In 1991 Burkina Faso remained under the rule of President 
Blaise Compaore, who toppled Thomas Sankara on October 15, 
1987, in the country's fourth military coup since 1980. In 
June 1990, President Compaore began a carefully controlled 
process of government restructuring and reform, legalizing 
opposition parties and independent media but dictating 
arrangements for the transition to multiparty elections. A new 
Constitution, approved by referendum in June 1991, contains 
provisions which, if fully implemented, would provide citizens 
a wide range of civil and political rights. Opposition groups 
originally participated in a broad-based transitional 
government but withdrew when the President refused to accept a 
national conference or to negotiate changes in arrangements for 
the presidential elections on December 1. The opposition 
refused to participate in the elections, and only an estimated 
25 percent of the registered electorate turned out to vote, 
thus denying Compaore the mandate he sought . In the aftermath 
of that vote, opposition activist Clement Ouedraogo was killed 
in a grenade attack, and another opposition member, Moctar 
Tall, was seriously injured in a separate attack. Many 
Burkinabe believed the Government was responsible for the 
attacks . 

Burkina Faso's security apparatus consists of the armed forces, 
the paramilitary gendarmerie, and the police, all controlled by 
the Ministry of Defense. Although the situation improved from 
previous years, elements of the security services, used for 
police duties, were responsible for human rights abuses in 
1991, including mistreatment of detainees. 

Burkina Faso is overwhelmingly dependent on subsistence 
agriculture which, in turn, is highly vulnerable to variable 
rainfall. Frequent drought, weak communications and 
transportation infrastructure, and a low literacy rate are all 
longstanding problems. Per capita income is approximately $300 
a year. In March the Government reached agreement with the 
World Bank and the International Monetary Fund on a 3-year 
structural adjustment program. This program aims to open the 
economy to free market forces, promote privatization, and 
attract foreign investment. 

The Government instituted some limited human rights 
improvements in 1991, most notably in releasing two groups of 
political detainees: those implicated in a December 1989 coup 
attempt and students arrested during protests at the University 
of Ouagadougou in May 1990. On July 25, President Compaore 
declared a general amnesty pardoning those found guilty of 
political offenses since the country's independence and 
restoring their civil rights. The appearance of privately 
owned newspapers stimulated critical discussion of reform. 
However, these developments were clouded by the Government's 
intimidation of political opponents and local human rights 
activists and by the assassination of Clement Ouedraogo. 

RESPECT FOR HU>1AN RIGHTS 

Section 1 Respect for the Integrity of the Person, Including 
Freedom from: 

a. Political and Other Extrajudicial Killing 

In addition to the assassination of Clement Ouedraogo and the 
attempt on the life of Moctar Tall, there were two apparent, 
but unconfirmed, extrajudicial killings. Professor Guillaume 



26 



BURKINA FASO 

Sessouma, detained in December 1989 for allegedly participating 
in a coup plot, and medical student Dabo Boukary, detained 
following student demonstrations in May 1990, were reportedly 
killed while in detention by members of the paramilitary 
gendarmerie. Government officials continue to insist that the 
two escaped to Ghana. According to informed sources, however, 
both men were tortured and killed shortly after their arrest. 
The Burkinabe Movement for the Rights of Man and Peoples 
(MBDHP) continues to pressure the Government to account for 
both disappearances. 

b. Disappearance 

Initial reports indicated that a number of protestors were 
missing after an attack by supporters of President Compaore's 
Organization for Popular Democracy (ODP/MT) on a peaceful 
opposition rally and march on September 30. However, these 
allegations have never been confirmed and appear to have 
resulted from the confusion of the moment. An estimated 100 
persons were injured in the incident. 

c. Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading 
Treatment or Punishment 

While legally prohibited, torture and mistreatment of detainees 
have been documented for a number of years, and no known 
disciplinary action has been taken against those responsible. 
The most recent manifestation of the problem occurred in 
Bobo-Dioulasso, where those taken into custody following an 
election day riot on December 1 were tortured before being 
turned over to the police. After Burkina's two local human 
rights groups (see Section 4) protested these actions, those 
detained were released, and no further allegations of 
mistreatment were made. 

d. Arbitrary Arrest, Detention, or Exile 

Since the June adoption of the Constitution, which provides for 
the right to expeditious arraignment and access to legal 
counsel, there have been no known cases of prolonged arbitrary 
arrest or detention. The law permits detention for 
investigative purposes without charge for a maximum of 72 
hours, renewable for a single 72-hour period. In practice, 
this limitation is rarely observed, particularly in sensitive 
cases. The military code takes precedence over the civil code 
in national security cases. 

Prior to the controlled reform process, the Compaore regime 
held in custody a large number of its opponents who were 
allegedly implicated in two 1989 coup plots. In 1991 the 
Government released these persons, without ever bringing them 
to trial. Some opposition supporters were detained by 
authorities after opposition marches on September 30 and 
October 29, and after the December 1 Bobo Dioulasso riot, but 
they were released following demarches by local human rights 
organizations . 

Though some intellectuals, military officers, and former 
government officials remain in self-imposed exile abroad, a 
number have repatriated themselves since the beginning of the 
country's reform process. On September 4, a prominent exile. 
Professor Joseph Ki-Zerbo, returned to Burkina Faso after 8 
years in Senegal and France. Earlier in the year. Captain 
Boukary Kabore returned to Burkina Faso from Ghana, following 4 
years of exile. Kabore, who headed the Koudougou military 



27 



B URKINA FASO 

encampment, was the only military leader to oppose then Captain 
Compaore's overthrow of Captain Thomas Sankara in 1987. 

e. Denial of Fair Public Trial 

The Constitution guarantees the right to public trial, access 
to counsel, and appeal. These rights are respected in the 
normal court system but do not exist in the People's 
Revolutionary Courts (TPR's), the politicized tribunals 
established following the 1983 revolution to judge former 
government officials on corruption and other charges. The 
TPR's were inactive after the Constitution's promulgation, 
although not officially abolished by the end of 1991. 

In 1991 the Government restored the civil rights of those 
convicted of political offenses. The July general amnesty, 
however, pardoned only those convicted of political crimes, not 
those convicted of other offenses by the country's politicized 
TPR's. At year's end, a separate process was established 
whereby these convictions could be appealed. 

Military courts exercise jurisdiction in security and political 
cases and are convened on an ad hoc basis. They are subject to 
flexible procedures and executive influence. As a result, 
there have been growing public pressures to revise the military 
legal code. 

f. Arbitrary Interference with Privacy, Family, Home, or 
Correspondence 

Government authorities generally do not interfere in the daily 
lives of ordinary citizens, but monitoring of private 
correspondence or telephones does occur in suspected national 
security cases. Under the law, homes may be searched only 
under the authority of a warrant issued by the Minister of 
Justice. In national security cases, however, a special law 
permits surveillance, searches, and monitoring of telephones 
and correspondence without a warrant. Vestiges of President 
Compaore's old Popular Front government and its infrastructure, 
including local revolutionary committees, continued to play an 
active role on the local scene in 1991. Though formally 
separated from the State, these organizations exercised an 
intimidating role in Burkinabe towns and villages. 

Section 2 Respect for Civil Liberties, Including: 

a. Freedom of Speech and Press 

Although freedoms of speech and press increased in 1991, the 
Government still employed certain tactics of intimidation to 
limit individual expression and criticism of government 
policies, e.g., the use of force on September 30. 

The information code of 1990 established the right of private 
publication for the first time since 1987. The code requires 
that this right be exercised with "strict respect" for cultural 
and moral values and the political orientation of Burkina 
Faso. Thus, it gives the Government wide latitude of 
interpretation. However, the four independent newspapers and 
Radio Horizon, a private radio station in Ouagadougou, operated 
free of government intervention in 1991. L ' Observateur Paalga, 
one of the new independent newspapers, soon became the 
country's largest selling newspaper. The same pattern held 
with, Radio Horizon, which, within a few weeks, dominated the 
market. The official government newspaper, Sidwaya, and radio 



28 



BURKINA FASO 

Station, Radio Burkina, display a lingering pro-ODP/MT bias, 
and the official press organs remain selective in their 
reporting. Yet, the presence of the independent competition, 
especially from L 'Observateur , has led the official media to 
give more coverage of events sponsored by independent 
organizations and opposition parties critical of government 
policies . 

In general, foreign newspapers and magazines entered the 
country freely in 1991. Certain issues of international 
periodicals containing articles critical of the Government were 
intercepted upon reaching the country. In 1991 foreign 
journalists traveled freely, filed stories without censorship, 
and enjoyed access to government officials. There is no 
interference with international radio broadcasts. 

Although academic freedoms have been limited in the past, it 
remained unclear in 1991 whether the Constitution would protect 
academic freedoms more effectively than did previous 
legislation. The Government permitted those students released 
from detention to reenter the university. 

b. Freedom of Peaceful Assembly and Association 

Since early 1990, political parties have been permitted to 
organize and hold meetings. Parties still must seek government 
permission for their rallies, although such permission was 
generally granted automatically in 1991. More than 50 
political parties existed in Burkina at the end of 1991. 

An increasing cycle of violence characterized Burkinabe 
politics prior to the boycotted presidential election, in an 
apparent attempt by hardliners to intimidate the opposition. 
Armed supporters of President Compaore and his ODP/MT attacked 
a peaceful opposition march on September 30, and widespread 
vandalism followed the police breakup of an opposition march on 
October 29. Unidentified assailants attacked the homes of 
prominent opposition leaders repeatedly in October and 
November, using Molotov cocktails and machine guns. In 
separate ambushes shortly after the election, one opposition 
leader, Clement Ouedraogo, was killed and another, Moctar Tall, 
was seriously wounded. 

Credible reports indicate the Government discharged some civil 
servants who took part in opposition activities and warned 
businessmen against supporting the opposition at the risk of 
losing government contracts and facing other harassment. 

Nonpolitical associations for business, religious, cultural, 
and other purposes exist and experience no difficulty in 
obtaining permission to meet or associate with international 
associations in their fields. 

c. Freedom of Religion 

Burkina Faso is a secular state, and Islam and Christianity 
exist side by side, with about 40 percent of the population 
Muslim and about 15 percent Christian. The remainder of the 
population practices traditional African religions. Muslim and 
Christian holidays are recognized as national holidays. Social 
mobility and access to modern sector jobs are neither linked 
to, nor restricted by, religious affiliations. 



29 



BURK INA FASO 

d. Freedom of Movement Within the Country, Foreign 
Travel, Emigration, and Repatriation 

Travelers within Burkina Faso are routinely stopped for 
identity checks at police and military checkpoints. There is 
little restriction on foreign travel for business and tourism. 
Exit permits are no longer required. Refugees are accepted 
freely in Burkina Faso, and attempts are made to provide for 
their care in cooperation with the United Nations High 
Commissioner for Refugees. At the end of 1991, there were 
approximately 186 refugees and displaced persons in Burkina 
Faso, mainly from Chad and Liberia. 

Section 3 Respect for Political Rights: The Right of Citizens 
to Change Their Government 

In 1991 citizens still did not have the right to change their 
government, but pressures for change continued. The program of 
reform, carefully controlled by President Compaore since its 
inception, suffered a setback following persistent intimidation 
of the opposition (see Section 2.b.) and the failure of the 
Government and the opposition to agree on modalities for the 
presidential election on December 1. Opposition parties sought 
a national conference with authority to govern as a 
precondition for their participation. When the President 
demurred, the opposition parties boycotted the legislative and 
presidential elections. Running unopposed. President Compaore 
received 86 percent of the ballots, but 75 percent of the 
electorate abstained from voting. 

Following the presidential election and the subsequent 
assassination of prominent opposition leader Clement Ouedraogo, 
President Compaore moved to compromise with the opposition. He 
delayed the legislative elections in order to allow the 
opoposition to abandon its boycott and accepted the principle 
of a "national forum of reconciliation." At the end of 1991, 
no date for the forum had been set. The opposition made 
government assurance of its security a precondition for 
continued participation in negotiations on Burkina's future. 

Section 4 Governmental Attitude Regarding International and 

Nongovernmental Investigation of Alleged Violations 
of Human Rights 

The Government's response to demarches by local human rights 
groups has been mixed. The Government has continued to 
tolerate the activities of the Burkinabe Movement for the 
Rights of Man and Peoples (MBDHP), and, after protests by the 
MBDHP and the other local human rights group, it released 
opposition supporters detained following election-day riots in 
Bobo Dioulasso. However, it has studiously ignored MBDHP 
demands to account for the deaths of Boukary Dabo and Guillaume 
Sessouma. The MBDHP is an independent group, composed mostly 
of professionals, led by the President of the Administrative 
Chamber of the High Court. The MBDHP has organized forums on 
constitutional and human rights issues at which discussion has 
been impressively free and open; it also publishes a quarterly 
journal. The government press, however, still ignores certain 
MBDHP activities, an issue the Movement raised with the. 
Minister of Information in late September. By that time, the 
MBDHP had established local chapters in 25 of Burkina's 30 
provinces. As yet, MBDHP members do not appear to have been 
targeted for reprisal, although the car of Movement president 
Alidou Ouedraogo was burned on September 30, 1991, during an 



BURKINA FASO 

attack by ODP/MT supporters on the headquarters of the National 
Convention of Progressive Patriots, an opposition party. 

In April a second human rights organization, the Association 
for the Promotion of a State of Law and Liberty (APED/L), was 
founded by a group of lawyers and professionals. Claiming to 
defend the "everyday" rights of man, APED/L has subtly 
criticized the MBDHP ' s antigovernment stance. The 
Association's close relations with the Government and official 
media suggest that it was established to counteract the MBDHP 's 
human rights activities. The Government is rarely responsive 
to investigations by international nongovernmental 
organizations. 

Section 5 Discrimination Based on Race, Sex, Religion, 
Language, or Social Status 

Discrimination on the basis of race, religion, or ethnic origin 
is illegal under the 1991 Constitution. In practice, such 
discrimination does not occur on a wide scale. Minority ethnic 
groups are as likely to be represented in the inner circles of 
the Government as are the majority Mossi, and government 
decisions do not favor one group over another. 

In the largely rural society of Burkina Faso, women continue to 
occupy a subordinate position and face discrimination in such 
areas as education, jobs, property, and family rights. In the 
modern sector, however, women are well represented, making up 
one-fourth of the government work force, usually in lower 
paying positions. Women constitute approximately one-third of 
the total student population in the primary, secondary, and 
higher educational systems. Schools in rural areas have 
disproportionately fewer girls than schools in urban areas. 

Violence against women, especially wife beating, occurs fairly 
frequently in rural areas, less often in cities. The 
Government is attempting to educate people on the subject 
through the media. Such cases are sometimes mediated by a 
"popular conciliation tribunal," composed of community 
repr esentat ives . 

The Government has made a particularly strong commitment to 
eradicate female genital mutilation through widespread 
educational efforts. Female circumcision still occurs in many 
rural areas, although it is becoming less common in urban 
centers. Another form of mutilation is scarring the faces of 
both boys and girls of certain ethnic groups. This custom, 
too, is gradually disappearing. 

Section 6 Worker Rights 

a. The Right of Association 

Workers, including civil servants, have traditionally enjoyed a 
legal right to association, which is recognized in the newly 
ratified Constitution. There are a large number of trade 
unions and five trade union federations. Although unions are 
independent of the Government, the military Government has at 
times limited their freedom of action to ensure compliance with 
government labor policy. Once the most powerful political 
force in the country, organized labor — approximately 60,000 
nonagr icultural workers--lost much of its influence under the 
Sankara and Compaore military regimes. The five trade union 
federations participated in the drafting of the national 
Constitution adopted in June. 



31 



BURKINA FASO 

The new Constitution also guarantees organized labor the right 
to strike in accordance with the laws in force. Labor unrest 
has increased a^ the country has embarked on an austerity 
economic adjustment program. Labor unions are free to 
affiliate internationally. 

b. The Right to Organize and Bargain Collectively 

Unions have the right to bargain for wages and other benefits 
both directly with employers and with industry associations. 
These negotiations are governed by minimums on wages and other 
benefits contained in the interprofessional collective 
convention and the commercial-sector collective convention. If 
no agreement is reached, employees may exercise their right to 
strike. Either labor or management may also refer the impasse 
in negotiations to the Government for consideration at the 
level of the country's labor tribunals. Appeals may be pursued 
through the Court of Appeal to the Supreme Court, whose 
decision is binding on both parties. Collective bargaining is 
extensive in the modern sector, although this encompasses only 
a small percentage of the population. The Labor Code prohibits 
antiunion discrimination, and complaints about such 
discrimination are handled by Labor Ministry inspectors and are 
appealable to a tribunal in the Ministry. This is a 
functioning system which union officials feel works 
adequately. There are no export processing zones in Burkina 
Faso . 

c. Prohibition of Forced or Compulsory Labor 
Forced labor is prohibited by law and is not practiced. 

d. Minimum Age for Employment of Children 

The Labor Code sets the minimum age for employment at 14, the 
average age for completion of basic secondary school. However, 
the Ministry of Employment, Labor, and Social Security, which 
oversees labor standards, lacks the means to enforce this 
provision adequately, even in the small wage sector. Most 
children actually begin work at an earlier age on small, family 
subsistence farms and in the traditional apprenticeship system. 

e. Acceptable Conditions of Work 

The Labor Code mandates a minimum monthly wage and a maximum 
workweek of 48 hours and establishes safety and health 
provisions. The current minimum wage rate, which does not 
apply to the large subsistence agriculture sector, was last set 
by the Government in 1983 and is not adequate for an urban 
worker to support a family. Wage earners usually supplement 
their income through reliance on the extended family and 
subsistence agriculture. A system of government inspections 
under the Ministry of Labor and labor courts ensures that 
health and safety standards are applied in the small industrial 
and commercial sectors, but they are not applicable in the 
subsistence agriculture sector, which involves over 85 percent 
of the population. 



32 



BURUNDI 



The Republic of Burundi is a one-party state led by President 
Pierre Buyoya, an army major who came to power in a bloodless 
coup in September 1987. President Buyoya is also head of the 
National Party for Unity and Progress (UPRONA) and exercises 
considerable executive, legislative, and regulatory powers. 
The 23-member, predominantly civilian Cabinet manages the 
day-to-day business of government. In spite of an increasingly 
open political atmosphere, UPRONA is still the only legal 
political entity in Burundi. 

Throughout its history, Burundi has been plagued by ethnic 
conflict, characterized by the traditional dominance of the 
minority (14 percent) Tutsi ethnic group over the majority (85 
percent) Hutu ethnic group. Although progress towards reform 
suffered a setback following ethnic violence in 1988, in which 
5,000 to 10,000 people were killed, there has since been slow 
but definite movement in the direction of democratization. 

In a nationwide referendum on February 5, the National Unity 
Charter was approved by nearly 90 percent of the voters. This 
document is intended to provide a guarantee of equal rights for 
all Burundis regardless of ethnic origin and thus to bring 
about national reconciliation. A 35-member constitutional 
commission, largely composed of civilians, was officially 
formed on March 21 to formulate a new constitution to replace 
the one suspended by President Buyoya when he came to power in 
1987. The commission recommended in September the creation of 
a multiparty political system, with fundamental rights 
including free speech and press, the separation of powers, and 
the protection of minorities. Government officials and 
commission members carried out an energetic campaign to inform 
the population, both at home and abroad, of the commission's 
recommendation and to solicit their views. President Buyoya 
has called for a referendum on the constitution early in 1992 
to be followed by general elections in early 1993. However, 
major opposition groups rejected both the commission's report 
and the President's program for transition as the unilateral 
products of a government that came to power by force. 

Internal state security is still the responsibility of the 
security police. A much larger regular police force, or 
gendarmerie, is responsible for maintaining law and order. The 
state security police have the same powers of arrest as the 
regular police and are subject to the same process of judicial 
review. Both are part of Burundi's 18 , 000-member military 
force. An ethnically balanced National Security Council was 
created in 1990 to oversee the activities of the various 
security forces, which continue to be almost entirely composed 
of members of the Tutsi ethnic group. During times of unrest, 
the army is permitted to take persons into custody on behalf of 
the gendarmerie. Elements of the military committed 
significant human rights abuses in 1991 in responding to 
alleged threats and attacks from members of the Party for the 
Liberation of the Hutu People (PALIPEHUTU) . 

Landlocked Burundi is extremely poor and densely populated. 
Over four-fifths of the working population is engaged in 
subsistence agriculture, working small, privately owned plots. 
The small monetary economy is based largely on the export of 
coffee, with few other cash crops. The country has embarked on 
a structural adjustment program supported by the donor 
community which includes the privatization of a range of 
industries. The increasingly grave social and economic problem 



33 



BURUNDI 

of the acquired immumodef iciency syndrome (AIDS) complicates a 
preexisting health-care crisis. 

In 1991 civil liberties continued to be significantly 
restricted, including the rights of assembly and association 
and of political expression. Brutality, and sometimes torture, 
of detainees remained a problem, as did the Government's 
failure to investigate effectively and punish those 
responsible. In the aftermath of attacks on military and 
police installations in November, security forces overreacted, 
resulting in the death of between 500 and 1,000 people. A 
commission of inquiry was established to investigate these 
incidents, and some military person were arrested. The 
Government also abolished a special security court. Citizens 
still did not have the right to change their government, but 
there was progress towards a democratic political system. 

RESPECT FOR HUMAN RIGHTS 

Section 1 Respect for the Integrity of the Person, Including 
Freedom from: 

a. Political and Other Extrajudicial Killing 

In late November and December, 500 to 1,000 people were killed 
as the result of security forces' response to attacks on 
military and police installations. Reliable reports indicate 
that many of these deaths were the result of the use of 
excessive force. The Government established a commission of 
inquiry, headed by the Attorney General, to investigate the 
causes of the violence as well as excesses on the part of the 
authorities. At year's end, several Tutsi military officers 
had been detained for prosecution where culpability had been 
determined. There were persistent reports that Burundi 
military forces killed an unspecified number of Hutu peasants 
in the north of the country. The Government denied the reports, 

Questions concerning the 1990 death of Remy Gahutu, a prominent 
exiled Burundi political dissident who died while in the 
custody of Tanzanian authorities, remained unresolved in 1991. 
Clinical information indicated the death may have been the 
result of poisoning, and members of Gahutu 's organization have 
alleged that Burundi authorities were ultimately responsible. 

b. Disappearance 

There were numerous reports of people disappearing during the 
November disturbances, and the Government promised to provide 
lists of those arrested. At year's end, it was still not 
possible to account for all missing persons. Some may be 
presumed to be among the approximately 40,000 Burundians who 
fled to Zaire or Rwanda as a result of recent or threatened 
violence and who remained outside of the country. 

c. Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading 
Treatment or Punishment 

Torture is forbidden by law, but cruel treatment of suspects or 
detainees continues to occur in the form of beatings during 
arrest or interrogation. There is no evidence of vigorous 
prosecution for such torture or brutality, and the council 
established 2 years ago to investigate official misconduct and 
brutality apparently has seldom met and reportedly has taken 
action only once. Members of the legal and human rights 



34 



BURUNDI 

communities report that judges rarely press the police about 
the nature of their conduct in questionable cases. 

Prison conditions remain severe in Burundi, due to lack of 
adequate hygiene, clothing, medical care, food, and water. 
Food must be grown by the prisoners and when possible 
supplemented by their families. The Government has begun a 
program of gradually improving conditions; to date, efforts 
have been focused on increasing the supply of food and 
clothing. Visits by family members are difficult, particularly 
when prisoners are moved to locations distant from their homes 
due to overcrowding. 

d. Arbitrary Arrest, Detention, or Exile 

Police officers are empowered to detain suspects without an 
arrest warrant but must submit a written report to the public 
prosecutor ■ s office within 24 hours. The public prosecutor may 
either order the detainee's release or issue an arrest warrant 
valid for 5 days. The public prosecutor must then state the 
charges before a magistrate in the presence of the detainee. 
The magistrate may confirm the detention, initially for 15 days 
and subsequently for 30-day periods as necessary to prepare the 
case for trial. The law allows unlimited pretrial detention. 
Bail is set only in cases of embezzlement or similar crimes 
involving financial wrongdoing. 

In general, the prescribed procedures for arrest and 
imprisonment are followed in criminal cases, although 
proceedings may be affected by the lack of a well-trained 
judiciary. In political security cases, however, procedural 
requirements are sometimes ignored. In all cases, time limits 
for issuance of arrest warrants and appearance before a 
magistrate are often exceeded, usually due to a shortage of 
magistrates and prosecutors. 

The constitutional commission remarked that arbitrary arrests 
and prolonged preventive detentions still exist. Three 
American law professors, who did extensive judicial consulting 
in July and August, confirmed that persons are detained before 
trial without prosecutorial or judicial review. The Ministry 
of Justice has expressed concern about this problem and is 
reportedly considering remedies to correct the situation. 

In 1991 the Government cracked down on members of opposition 
groups (see Section 3), both legal and illegal, when they were 
suspected of supporting antigovernment activities. One member 
of the opposition party, the Front for Democracy in Burundi 
(FRODEBU) spent 3 months in prison — from May to July — for 
possession of antigovernment literature. In August the 
Government began detaining supporters of the illegal opposition 
group PALIPEHUTU for agitation and possession of antigovernment 
literature. The detainees included the vice president of the 
group. The Government acknowledged that, prior to the outbreak 
of violence in November, it had arrested 60 persons for 
activities against the Government. These persons have not yet 
been charged, and the cases have not yet gone to trial. There 
are divergent estimates of the number of additional arrests 
made during the violence in November, but the number could 
presumably be in the hundreds. Once again, charges have not 
been filed, and the cases have not been brought to trial. 
However, the Government has stated that all those arrested will 
be tried under existing criminal laws. 



35 



BURUNDI 

During the course of 1991, some members of the Jehovah's 
Witnesses were arrested by local authorities for refusing to 
comply (on religipus grounds) with local government 
directives. No charges were filed, and all were released 
within 48 hours. 

The Government does not exile its nationals as a means of 
political control. However, since 1987 ex-president Bagaza and 
his wife have been denied permission to return to Burundi, 
although the Buyoya Government has stated that it is willing to 
negotiate the conditions of their return. In 1991 Mrs. Bagaza 
attempted to return secretly, using a false name and passport, 
but was not allowed to land in Burundi. The Government 
reiterated its willingness to negotiate her return. Three 
Bagaza daughters, all minors, remain in Burundi with relatives; 
they are free to leave, however. 

e. Denial of Fair Public Trial 

The judiciary is not independent; it is expected to adhere to 
the guidance and recommendations of UPRONA, the Government, and 
the President. In practice, there is a high degree of autonomy 
in the court's daily administration of justice. The President 
has the power to pardon or reduce sentences. In cases of major 
political interest, the Government occasionally intervenes in 
the judicial process. 

Military and civil/criminal cases are dealt with in separate 
court systems. Military tribunals have jurisdiction only over 
military personnel and persons suspected of committing crimes 
against the military. A separate state security court which 
had jurisdiction over both civilian and military personnel in 
cases involving state security was abolished in 1991, and its 
cases will now be handled by the appropriate criminal or 
military court. 

The judicial system consists of the Supreme Court, the courts 
of appeals, the administrative courts, the Labor Court, and the 
Court of Accounts. The latter Court investigates and 
prosecutes cases of official corruption; to date most of its 
cases have involved actions that occurred under the previous 
regime. Pretrial proceedings, which are not public, are 
conducted by the Government and may involve lengthy 
investigations. Most cases do not involve an effective 
independent defense due to a shortage of lawyers and resources 
on the part of the accused. 

The courts are hampered by a shortage of legal personnel and a 
heavy case load. Currently, systemic problems with 
dissemination of information, new presidential decrees, and 
Supreme Court decisions mean that the law is not equally 
applied in all cases. Upcountry magistrates, in particular, 
often have access to only a single volume of 1970 laws. 

f. Arbitrary Interference With Privacy, Family, Home, or 
Correspondence 

The inviolability of the home and of private correspondence 
were provided for in the suspended constitution and are still 
respected in practice. A judicial warrant is required for a 
law enforcement official to enter and search a private 
residence. The state security office monitors political 
dissidence through the state security police and by employing 
informers who report on discontent and dissent as well as on 



36 



BURUNDI 

criminal activity. Membership in the UPRONA party is not 
required by law. 

Section 2 Respect for Civil Liberties, Including: 

a. Freedom of Speech and Press 

There are significant restrictions on speech and press 
freedoms. The Buyoya regime has permitted public debate on 
formerly taboo subjects, such as ethnic relations and official 
corruption; however, debate is largely confined to UPRONA party 
meetings, the forum for dialog officially encouraged by the 
Government. Criticism outside party forums is restricted. 
Possession of opposition political tracts is a punishable 
offense, e.g., seven members of the FRODEBU opposition party 
were arrested and imprisoned in 1991 for possession of such 
tracts (see Section l.d.). 

The Government regulates domestic print and broadcast media. A 
French-language daily and a Kirundi-language weekly newspaper 
are published by the Ministry of Information, which also 
operates the domestic radio and television stations. The 
official media supports the fundamental policies of the party 
and the Government. While some criticism of the Government is 
permitted, journalists are state employees and subject to 
disciplinary action if their criticism goes beyond what is 
considered tolerable. The Government has interfered on 
occasion with the distribution of foreign news publications and 
censored sexually explicit foreign film material or 
publ ications . 

In 1988 a liberalized ordinance authorized private print media 
in Burundi, provided they have prior authorization from the 
Ministry of Information. Private broadcast media are not yet 
authorized. Two news publications emerged, one a Catholic 
biweekly in Kirundi and the other a monthly magazine published 
in French by an association of Burundian intellectuals. 
Although these publications debate multiparty versus single 
party political systems and have been critical of UPRONA, they 
appear to refrain from taking genuinely controversial positions 
on critical issues. 

Academic freedom is limited; primary and secondary 
schoolteachers are expected to support government policies. 
Professors at the University of Burundi come from a wide 
assortment of national backgrounds. They are generally 
permitted to lecture freely in their subject areas, conduct 
research, and draw independent conclusions, but they do not 
concern themselves with domestic politics. 

b. Freedom of Peaceful Assembly and Association 

These rights are restricted. No political meetings or 
associations other than those tied to UPRONA are currently 
permitted, although some are tolerated within limits. A number 
of Burundian intellectuals are openly supportive of the FRODEBU 
opposition party, without, apparently, suffering for it. 
Informal gatherings and some criticism is permitted; however 
the PALIPEHUTU party, considered by the Government to promote 
ethnic division, is illegal, and its activities are not 
tolerated. In August, eight PAI IPEHUTU supporters were 
arrested and imprisoned for agitation, as a result of holding 
an illegal meeting. 



37 

BURUNDI 

c. Freedom of Religion 

For the most part, the Buyoya Government has reversed the 
repression of religious expression under the previous regime of 
Colonel Jean-Baptiste Bagaza. Buyoya has freed religious 
prisoners, reopened closed churches, returned confiscated 
church properties, including houses and schools, authorized 
workday religious services, reinstituted the activities of the 
catechists, and authorized church schools (including seminaries 
and literary and catechism classes), publications, and 
broadcasts. Those missionaries who were expelled have been 
allowed to return, and there are no restrictions on new 
missionaries for authorized churches. Since more than 60 
percent of the population is Catholic, the Catholic Church 
plays an important role in the development of the country and 
in the lives of both rural and urban Burundians. 

Religious organizations, subject to the same rules and 
restrictions that apply to secular organizations, must obtain 
approval from the Government to operate in Burundi, and a 
Burundi citizen must be designated as legal representative of 
each organization. The approval process, which includes an 
investigation of the association's activities in its home 
country, can be lengthy. The Government has legally recognized 
the Seventh-Day Adventist Church and has restored its 
confiscated properties. 

However, the pattern of arrests and harassment of Jehovah's 
Witnesses continued in 1991, despite the June 1990 visit of an 
international delegation of Witnesses. The Government still 
has not granted the group legal status, allegedly because of 
Witnesses' refusal to acknowledge secular authority. 

Religious groups may not engage in political activity critical 
of the Government. There are no barriers to the maintenance of 
links with coreligionists in other countries. Participation in 
religious life does not exclude membership in the UPRONA party 
or eligibility for social benefits. 

d. Freedom of Movement Within the Country, Foreign 
Travel, Emigration, and Repatriation 

The Government has not instituted nationwide restrictions on 
internal travel since the after.math of the August 1988 ethnic 
violence. Since that time, local travel has occasionally been 
restricted in areas experiencing unrest. The Government's 
policy is to discourage urban migration through rural 
development programs and a public education campaign. A 
voluntary resettlement program exists to promote migration from 
densely populated areas to parts of the country where more land 
is available. 

Foreign travel and emigration are relatively free. In 1990 the 
Government abolished the requirement that Burundi citizens who 
travel abroad must surrender their passports to the immigration 
office on their return to Burundi. Citizens are not required 
to have passports for journeys to neighboring areas of Rwanda 
and Zaire. Foreigners residing in Burundi must have exit visas 
to leave the country. 

All but approximately 800 of the more than 50,000 Burundi 
citizens who fled to southern Rwanda following the August 1988 
ethnic violence have returned voluntarily to their homes. The 
United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) is 
continuing to work with those who wish to return home. In a 



BURUNDI 

special repatriation effort, the Burundian Government and the 
UNHCR are working to make possible the voluntary repatriation 
of Burundians who fled to other countries following the 1972 
outbreak of ethnic violence. More than 150,000 Burundians left 
the country at that time. Approximately 17,000 returned during 
1991, but an additional estimated 40,000 fled to Zaire or 
Rwanda as a result of the November violence. 

The current official estimate of Burundi's refugee population 
is 269,000, most of whom are Rwandan Tutsis who have resided in 
Burundi since the 1960's. These refugees, for the most part, 
have been integrated into Burundi society and no longer require 
assistance from the UNHCR. No refugees were forcefully 
repatriated in 1991; however, some refugees reportedly joined 
the Rwandan Patriotic Front in the armed conflict in Rwanda. 
Several refugees, with assistance from the UNHCR, were 
resettled from Burundi to other countries. In 1991, 18 
Rwandans and 1 Zairian were resettled in Canada, and 32 
Somalians who had arrived in Burundi in 1989 were resettled in 
the United States. Some 20 Somalians remain in Burundi under 
UNHCR auspices. 

The Government occasionally repatriates Rwandans and Zairians 
who lack residence permits, or who have been arrested on 
suspicion of criminal activities. At present, Burundi 
citizenship may only be acquired through birth from Burundi 
parents or by marriage, but the Government is considering the 
question of naturalization. 

Section 3 Respect for Political Rights: The Right of Citizens 
to Change Their Government 

Citizens do not have the legal right to change their 
government. In August the constitutional commission, 
presenting its report, called for wide public participation in 
the creation of the new constitution. It also called for 
public debate its recommendation that Burundi adopt a 
multiparty system. Since the release of the report, government 
officials and members of the commission have conducted public 
meetings in localities throughout the country and met with 
interest groups to solicit comments. Opposition groups have 
criticized this process and called for a national conference to 
assure more open and free debate. 

Political participation currently takes place only within the 
one-party structure of UPRONA, and voters can express 
dissatisfaction only by voting against incumbents for party 
positions. The party is open to all Burundi citizens 
supporting its principles and, with its youth, women's, and 
labor affiliates, claims a membership of over three-quarters of 
the adult population. However, many registered party members 
are inactive. 

While the report of the constitutional commission calls for the 
development of a multiparty system in Burundi, its 
recommendations also make it clear that, now and in the future, 
parties will be allowed to operate only as long as they do not 
violate prohibitions against activities or literature calling 
for ethnic identification. The Government took the position 
that any action or literature which challenged the concept of 
national unity or called for ethnically based political 
movements represented an illegitimate challenge to the 
Government. At the end of 1991, UPRONA remained the only legal 
political party in Burundi. However, during the year the 
Government tolerated some activities on the part of parties 



39 



BURUNDI 

which apparently were not considered a serious threat to the 
Government or the principle of national unity. These parties 
include FRODEBU, -the Movement for Peace and Democracy, the 
Party of the People, and the Royalist Party. 

In contrast to its relatively tolerant attitude toward these 
parties, the Government took aggressive action against the 
PALIPEHUTU Party during 1991. The Government accused the party 
of openly fostering ethnically based divisive politics as well 
as supporting violence against the Government. Numerous party 
members were arrested. 

Section 4 Governmental Attitude Regarding International and 

Nongovernmental Investigation of Alleged Violations 
of Human Rights 

In 1991 two local human rights groups were officially 
recognized by the Government. While these organizations are 
apparently free to conduct investigations and publish findings, 
their activities and effectiveness have thus far been limited 
by a lack of experience and resources and by the Government's 
lack of procedures for handling requests for information and 
permission to carry out monitoring activities. 

The Government allows international and nongovernmental 
organizations to investigate human rights conditions in 
Burundi. After initially rejecting calls for an international 
investigation into the August 1988 ethnic violence, it allowed 
an extensive survey of conditions in the affected areas by U.N. 
representatives. An Amnesty International delegation visited 
Burundi in June 1989, primarily to investigate the status of 
the detainees arrested in the aftermath of the violence. 

Section 5 Discrimination Based on Race, Sex, Religion, 
Language, or Social Status 

Historically, the minority Tutsi (14 percent) have dominated 
the majority Hutu people. Serious civil strife resulting in 
thousands of deaths has erupted between the two groups several 
times in the modern era, most recently in April 1972 and August 
1988. In both instances, a large majority of the victims were 
Hutus. Following the 1988 ethnic violence, the Government, 
with the support of the international community, moved rapidly 
to try to restore ethnic confidence, including the appointment 
of a national unity commission to recommend fundamental ethnic 
reforms . 

However, de facto discrimination by Tutsis against Hutus 
remains in many areas of society, although it is not condoned 
by law. There are very few Hutus in the army, and they are 
seriously underrepresented in the civil service and university 
positions. The Tutsis have traditionally had better access to 
educational opportunities. As a result of recent reform 
efforts, Hutus have made inroads into the civil service. The 
number of Hutus now exceeds the number of Tutsis entering 
secondary school, which represents progress compared with past 
years but still remains greatly disproportional . The pace of 
integration in the military remains slow. Tutsis dominate the 
modern economic sector, while in rural areas economic 
opportunities are roughly equivalent for both groups. 

Women hold a secondary position in Burundi society, based on 
traditional patterns. The suspended constitution provided for 
legal , equal ity, and this continues to be respected in 
practice. The current legal code prohibits polygamy and a 



40 



BURUNDI 

dowry requirement, allows women some control over family 
matters, and provides for land inheritance by women. However, 
legal restrictions persist, including the provision that a 
married woman may not start a business without her husband s 
permission. Fewer women than men obtain formal education; 
according to U.N. data, females get one-third of the schooling 
of males. Once a woman obtains a degree, she can generally 
find suitable employment. The Government has not discriminated 
against women in hiring, and the civil service pay scale makes 
no distinction between men and women. However, women are not 
significantly represented in business, the professions, or at 
higher levels of government, though the situation has improved 
in recent years. 

Violence against women, especially wife beating, is known to 
take place, but the extent of the violence has not been 
documented. While police do not normally intervene in domestic 
disputes, severe cases are dealt with by the legal system. The 
Government officially discourages violence against women and 
addresses the problem largely through the Burundi Women's 
Union, which provides counseling and, when deemed necessary, 
referral to legal authorities. 

Section 6 Worker Rights 

a. The Right of Association 

Up to the end of 1991, workers did not have the right to freely 
form and join labor unions. The UPRONA party controlled the 
National Trade Union Confederation (UTB) and supported it 
through direct and in-kind subsidies. Its leadership was 
appointed by the President. No other unions were allowed by 
law. On December 30, as part of its move to a multiparty 
system, the Government dissolved the UTB, defining its 18 
subgroups as politically and financially independent unions, 
organized by trade. The Confederation of Free Unions of 
Burundi (CSB), with an elected chair, was created as an 
administrative umbrella organization. While not all issues 
concerning the new unions' structure and rights have been 
resolved, they and the CSB face the immediate challenge of 
supporting their activities based solely on worker 
contributions. Labor policy has been and will continue to be 
formulated by the National Labor Council, on which employers, 
organized labor, and the Ministry of Labor are represented. 
The Council debates labor issues and makes policy 
recommendations to the Government. 

Strikes are permitted only if authorized by the Ministry of 
Labor after negotiations have failed, and advocacy of an 
unauthorized strike or lockout is a criminal offense. There 
have been no authorized strikes in recent years. Public sector 
employees have not been allowed to strike. The UTB was 
affiliated with the Organization of African Trade Union Unity. 

b. The Right to Organize and Bargain Collectively 

Workers did not have the right to organize outside the UTB 
until the end of the year. Prior to December 30, collective 
bargaining was supervised by the Government. There were no 
limits on the issues which could be bargained between the UTB 
and the employers, but the two sides were bound by the 
guidelines on wage and working conditions guidelines 
established by the National Labor Council and approved by the 
Government. To resolve labor disputes outside of collective 
bargaining situations, a three-step process was available: 



41 



BURUNDI 

direct employer-employee negotiations under the auspices of the 
UTB; an administrative hearing before a government labor 
inspector; and a legal proceeding before the Labor Court (or an 
administrative court, in the case of public employees), in 
which the UTB represented the employee (whether a union member 
or not). The UTB was often successful in forcing employers to 
change their practices through this process. The UTB estimated 
that it had between 80,000 and 100,000 members, or 
approximately 50 percent of the country's wage-earning 
employees. Antiunion discrimination is prohibited by law and 
is not a problem in practice because of the protections 
provided to employees under the Labor Code. 

There are no export processing zones in Burundi. 

c. Prohibition of Forced or Compulsory Labor 

Forced or compulsory labor is forbidden by law and is not 
practiced. The International Labor Organization's (ILO) 
Committee of Experts (COE) has regularly noted that various 
legislative provisions that call for imprisonment and an 
obligation to work as punishment for expressions of political 
views contrary to those of the party are not in compliance with 
ILO Convention 105. The COE has also noted that provisions 
concerning agricultural ordinances are in violation of ILO 
Convention 29. The UTB stated that, while many prisoners do 
agricultural or artisanal work to help feed themselves, there 
is no compulsory convict labor in Burundi. 

d. Minimum Age for Employment of Children 

In the modern, urban sector of the economy, children under the 
age of 16 may not be employed in any capacity. Enforcement of 
this minimum age by inspectors from the Ministry of Labor is 
lim.ited. As a practical matter in this poor, largely rural 
country, many children are obliged by custom and circumstance 
to help their families in subsistence agriculture. Many urban 
children engage in small-scale street trading and other 
activities to supplement the family income. 

e. Acceptable Conditions of Work 

Over 90 percent of the population of Burundi is engaged in 
subsistence agriculture. Minimum labor standards are 
established by the National Labor Council and promulgated by 
the Government in the Labor Code, but these standards have 
relevance primarily for workers in the small wage sector of the 
economy. The established minimum wage rate is inadequate to 
provide a decent living for urban families, who frequently 
supplement their income through family gardening or petty 
commerce . 

The maximum workweek is fixed by law at 45 hours. In the 
modern economic sector, minimum health and safety standards are 
incorporated in the Labor Code and are monitored by the 
Ministry of Labor. The number of safety inspectors is 
insufficient to enforce these standards effectively. 



42 



CAMEROON 



Political power in Cameroon is concentrated in the Presidency 
and a single party, the Cameroon People's Democratic Movement 
(CPDM) . President Paul Biya is Head of State and president of 
the CPDM. He makes all major decisions and appoints all senior 
government and party officials. Members of the 180-deputy 
National Assembly may initiate bills and amend measures 
proposed by the Government. However, in practice, provisions 
the Government finds inimical are never brought to a vote by 
the full house. Cameroon's political system is influenced by 
its ethnic and linguistic diversity, which comprises 230 
languages and major dialects and 3 separate European colonial 
traditions (German, French, and British). Balance among the 
various groups is required to maintain political cohesion, 
which acts as a check on government power . 

Internal security responsibilities are shared by the national 
police, the national intelligence service (CENER), the 
gendarmerie, the Ministry of Territorial Administration 
(MINAT) , military intelligence (SEMIL), the army, and, to a 
lesser extent, the presidential security service. MINAT is in 
charge of prisons, and its local-level officials (prefects) 
play a key role in ensuring order. The gendarmerie and the 
police have the dominant role in enforcing internal security 
laws. In the 7 of the country's 10 provinces which experienced 
significant unrest during the year, all security forces were 
under the nominal command of an "operational commander" from 
late May until early December. In 1991 there were numerous 
credible reports of human rights abuses committed by security 
forces . 

Cameroon's per capita gross domestic product (GDP) of about 
$1,000 in 1989 placed it among the lower middle-income 
developing countries, a slight decline from 1988. Preliminary 
data indicated that GDP declined again in 1991. Cameroon's 
food self-sufficiency helps mitigate the effects of declining 
terms of trade and other external difficulties. 

The human rights climate in Cameroon deteriorated sharply in 
1991. In several cases, there was evidence of government 
tolerance for human rights abuses and throughout much of the 
year of government inaction in the face of widespread, 
continuing abuses. Continuing human rights abuses included 
extrajudicial killings, torture and other mistreatment of 
prisoners, harsh prison conditions, repeated arbitrary arrest 
and detention, restrictions on freedoms of speech and assembly, 
and limitations on women's and worker rights. Starting in the 
spring, there were a number of serious incidents and abuses, 
some of which caused many civilian deaths. Beginning in April 
with student protests and continuing with general strikes 
called by the opposition, public demonstrations often met 
brutal repression by security forces. In addition, the 
Government banned six associations, closed newspapers it found 
troublesome, and harassed the political opposition, using 
arbitrary arrest and detention and administrative 
restrictions. This repression abated somewhat at year's end. 

Responding to pressure for reform. President Biya in October 
announced that multiparty elections to the National Assembly 
would be held in 1992, in accordance with procedures developed 
in coordination with the opposition political parties. 
However, sharp disagreements between the Government and the 
opposition, and within the opposition itself, left it unclear 
at year's end whether a date could be agreed on. During the 
year, the Government legally recognized over 40 political 



43 



CAMEROON 

parties, permitted the return of a number of political exiles, 
and released over 100 persons imprisoned for political reasons 
or who had never been tried. 

RESPECT FOR HUMAN RIGHTS 

Section 1 Respect for the Integrity of the Person, Including 
Freedom from: 

a. Political and Other Extrajudicial Killing 

There were over 100 instances of extrajudicial killing in 
Cameroon during 1991. These instances varied widely, from 
police beating a baker to death in Mbouda to mob lynching of a 
gendarme in Douala and to ethnic clashes in Meiganga. Often 
the deaths occurred during the heat of a confrontation between 
security forces and crowds protesting against government 
policies. Victims included security officers as well as 
civilians . 

Among the many examples was the incident at Yaounde University 
on May 6. Students and many others claim that at least 3 and 
as many as 20 students were killed after the gendarmerie 
intervened to break up a meeting of a student organization. A 
government-named special commission found no evidence that 
security forces had killed anyone, but many persons claim that 
fear of retribution kept potential witnesses from providing 
testimony that would have constrained the commission to find 
otherwise . 

In mid-April confrontations between security forces and 
political demonstrators led to between two and nine deaths in 
Ngaoundere, capital of Adamaoua Province. A son of the local 
traditional ruler and at least one security officer were among 
those killed. Following a night of disorder on April 19, 
including vandalism and some physical violence, a young woman 
who was 5 months pregnant was brutally tortured and sexually 
abused by security forces, leading to her death (see Section 
I.e.). 

Credible reports indicated that the authorities in the Adamaoua 
Province town of Meiganga exploited longstanding ethnic 
tensions in an effort to break the opposition-led general 
strike, known as "Operation Ghost Towns." In mid-July these 
tensions boiled over into an interethnic skirmish which left at 
least 40 dead. As far as is known, there was no investigation 
into the circumstances leading to this tragedy or of the many 
instances of killings by security forces during 1991. 

In early September, a retired archbishop was strangled at his 
home in Ngaoundere shortly after he met with President Biya. 
It is widely believed that political motives prompted the 
murder; however, the police investigation was neither energetic 
nor thorough and has not produced any suspects. 

b. Disappearance 

Various sources reported that between 53 and 68 students 
disappeared following the May 6 incident at Yaounde 
University. All but one of these persons were accounted for 
soon thereafter by a special commission. The unreliability of 
student registration rolls complicated efforts to follow up on 
allegations of disappearance. 



44 



CAMEROON 

c. Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading 
Treatment or Punishment 

Although the Penal Code proscribes torture, renders 
inadmissible in court evidence obtained thereby, and prohibits 
public servants from using force against any person, there were 
many credible reports of security forces inflicting severe 
beatings, systematic torture, and other inhumane treatment 
during 1991. Sanctions against those responsible are almost 
unknown. Investigations are rare because abused persons 
frequently fear reprisals against themselves and their families 
in the event they lodge a complaint. Prison conditions are 
abominable, though overcrowding in the major Douala and Yaounde 
prisons eased somewhat in 1991. 

Among the examples of brutality by security forces and of harsh 
prison conditions was the case of the pregnant woman mentioned 
in Section l.a. Prior to her death, she told a Western 
diplomat that she had suffered repeated mistreatment, including 
regular, severe beatings, denial of food and exercise, and, on 
the first night in prison, being forced to strip naked and 
share a 12 square-meter cell with 20 naked male prisoners. 
Shortly after making these reports, she was returned to 
Ngaoundere Prison, where she was reportedly interrogated about 
her discussions with the Western diplomat and subjected to 
further mistreatment, including being repeatedly raped. When 
she fell into a coma, she was returned to the hospital, where 
she died, chained to her bed. 

Other examples included severe police beatings in January of a 
group of persons demonstrating peacefully for the release of 
political prisoners in Garoua, capital of the North Province. 
They had disobeyed an order to disperse and sat on the ground. 
The responsible civil administrator was later transferred to an 
equivalent position in another area. Following unrest in 
Yaounde on April 2, state television showed security officers 
beating the bottoms of the feet of two prisoners seated on the 
ground. An article in the government-owned newspaper reporting 
the trial of a man suspected of stealing a sewing machine 
stated in part: the suspect "denied that charge... but he later 
succumbed to the allegations under torture." On another 
occasion, the government newspaper reported that an angry mob 
burned the houses of six gendarmes after the security officers 
beat five suspects about the feet and legs so badly that the 
men could no longer walk. 

In another instance, in the town of Mora, gendarmes beat dozens 
of suspects following arson attacks on their homes provoked by 
the May 16 shooting death of a local youth. In several cases, 
heads of households were stripped naked in front of their wives 
and children by gendarmes and police, a practice calculated to 
inflict special humiliation in this heavily Muslim area. Naked 
prisoners at the gendarmerie brigade in Mora were crowded in 
large numbers into a small holding cell devoid of sanitary 
facilities. At least 30 persons were later transferred to the 
gendarmerie legion headquarters in Maroua, where gendarmes 
subjected the detainees to beatings and other torture and 
degrading treatment twice each day for 15 days. Prisoners were 
kicked, had the bottoms of their feet beaten, were swung from 
the wrists and ankles, were ordered to pray and then beaten 
about the head for so doing, and were compelled to engage in 
acts of sodomy. Many showed scarring on wrists, hands, and 
lower legs consistent with the type of mistreatment they said 
they suffered. Some had medical certificates describing their 
injuries . 



45 



CAMEROON 

Security forces grossly mistreated opposition figures 
throughout the year; there was no evidence of government action 
or intention to put an end to it. On July 5, military, police, 
and gendarmes sealed a group of opposition leaders inside the 
private home of Cameroon Democratic Union President Adamou 
Ndam-Njoya. As others arrived to join the meeting, they were 
forced to undergo humiliating treatment. For example, 
according to an eyewitness report, one leader of a minor party 
was forced to walk the length of the street on his knees, 
resulting in ruined trousers and bloody knees. 

In another incident, members of several opposition political 
parties were meeting on the premises of a Douala computer 
assembly company on August 4 when police and gendarmes entered 
the compound firing guns and tear gas canisters. Also present 
and armed were a local administrative officer and an official 
of the ruling CPDM. Those captured were split into two groups, 
one of which was taken to the gendarmerie legion headquarters 
where eyewitnesses report they saw about 100 naked men and 
women being forced to walk on knees and elbows across gravel 
for over an hour. After 2 nights spent in the mud and rain, 
the prisoners were split into groups of about 20 and placed in 
underground cells about 20 meters square with.no beds and only 
a sink for plumbing. After 7 days, they wer-e moved to 
windowless cells in another location, where they were forced to 
sleep in a mixture of excrement and water in small cells 
lacking plumbing of any kind. During this time, one female 
detainee was denied access to her child to breastfeed it. 

On August 21, following a confrontation between security forces 
and the opposition Social Democratic Front (SDF) in Bafoussam, 
10 soldiers badly battered a number of civilians, prompting the 
Catholic Bishop to protest to the West Province Governor. In 
response to inquiries concerning this incident, Douala 
authorities claimed those detained were linked to an arson 
attack; however, no one was ever charged. 

On September 23 and 24, authorities in Douala took into custody 
24 opponents of the Government (see also Section 2.b.). Though 
they were released within 2 days, most suffered serious 
mistreatment while in detention. Samuel Eboua, President of 
the National Union for Democracy and Progress (UNDP) and lawyer 
Charles Tchoungang were among those hospitalized as a result of 
having been severely beaten with iron rods and rubber 
truncheons. Progressive Movement (MP) Party President 
Jean-Jacques Ekindi, who was placed under house arrest and 
denied access to visitors for an additional day after his 
release, received even harsher treatment. 

d. Arbitrary Arrest, Detention, or Exile 

Arbitrary, prolonged detention remains a serious problem. 
Under Cameroonian law, a person arrested for a nonpolitical 
offense may be held in custody up to 24 hours before being 
charged. The period may be renewed three times. However, 
after a magistrate has issued a warrant to bring the case to 
trial, the detainee may be held in "pretrial detention" 
indefinitely pending court action. Furthermore, a 1990 law 
permits detention without charge for renewable periods of 15 
days "in order to combat banditry." During 1991 public 
officials sometimes abused this authority in order to suppress 
political expression. The number of arbitrary detentions that 
took place during 1991 is impossible to estimate accurately but 
may have exceeded 10,000. 



46 



CAMEROON 

A presidential decree reducing sentences for many crimes, an 
amnesty law voted by the National Assembly in April, and the 
conclusion of an effort by the Ministry of Justice to clear the 
prisons of persons being held for reasons no longer known, cut 
the national prison population significantly and resulted in 
the closure of three notorious political prisons. The amnesty 
law brought about the release of the last of the prisoners held 
in connection with the failed 1984 coup attempt. In the Center 
Province alone, the Justice Ministry's initiative reduced the 
number of persons in pretrial detention (i.e., awaiting trial 
or whose cases were on appeal) from 2,568 to 671. 

Persons taken into detention are frequently denied access 
either to legal counsel or family members. The law permits 
release on bail only in the Anglophone provinces, whose legal 
system retains features of British common law. Even there, 
bail is granted infrequently. CENER and SEMIL do not implement 
fully the penal code requirement that detainees be brought 
before a magistrate for investigation of possible offenses and 
have held detainees incommunicado. Persons placed in 
administrative detention or taken into custody by security 
forces do not disappear. They are eventually released, though 
the families are not always informed promptly of their 
whereabouts. The law does not provide for judicial 
determination of the legality of detention, and judicial 
authorities are precluded from acting on a case until the 
administrative authority who ordered the detention turns the 
case over to the prosecutor. 

On August 29, the Lamido of Rey Bouba, a powerful traditional 
ruler who had traveled to Garoua to welcome President Biya to 
the North Province capital, took 50 local residents hostage 
after Garoua youths stoned his motorcade. In spite of pleas 
from local authorities, the Lamido refused to release the 
hostages until after his return to Rey Bouba. During the time 
the Lamido was holding the hostages. President Biya decorated 
him for service to the nation. 

Cameroon does not generally engage in the practice of forced 
exile, and many prominent exiles returned to Cameroon in 1991. 

e. Denial of Fair Public Trial 

The Cameroonian court system is subordinate to the Ministry of 
Justice. Thus, it is part of the executive, not a separate or 
independent branch of government. Magistrates in Cameroon are 
career civil servants responsible to the Minister of Justice, 
and they are subject, particularly in political cases, to 
government direction. Numerous magistrates have commented that 
rendering a decision that displeases the Government may result 
in transfer to a less desirable position. However, 
magistrates' decisions in nonpolitical cases are not usually 
subject to government interference. There have been reported 
cases of the Government refusing to pay damages when a court 
has found against it. Public trial by a presiding magistrate 
is provided for in law, and this practice is followed except in 
the case of persons held under administrative detention. In 
late 1991, Minister of Justice Douala Moutome several times 
enjoined his Ministry's officials to be fair and impartial in 
the conduct of their duties. 

Traditional courts continue to play an important role in 
Cameroon, particularly in rural areas. Their authority varies 
by region and by ethnic group, but they are often the arbiters 
of property and domestic disputes and may serve a probate 



47 



CAMEROON 

function as well. Most traditional courts permit appeal of . 
decisions to traditional authorities of higher rank. 

Civilians accused of subversion or weapons offenses are liable 
to trial before the State Security Court, which was established 
by a law enacted in late 1990. This Court has seven members, 
five of whom must be trained magistrates; these were not 
appointed until November 14, so the Court has not as yet heard 
any cases. This Court's ruling may not be appealed except with 
respect to a point of law. There were no known political 
prisoners being held at the end of 1991. 

f. Arbitrary Interference with Privacy, Family, Home, or 
Correspondence 

While both invasions of the home and tampering with 
correspondence are violations of Cameroonian law, there have 
been frequent reports of police harassing citizens and entering 
homes without warrants during periodic searches. This practice 
was particularly widespread in neighborhoods near Yaounde 
University in April and May and in Douala in August and 
September. Police officials also sometimes enter homes and 
demand to see receipts for household property as a customs law 
enforcement measure. Surveillance of suspected dissidents and 
the monitoring of their mail and telephone conversations are 
common practices. 

Section 2 Respect for Civil Liberties, Including: 

a. Freedom of Speech and Press 

Although the Constitution of 1972 provides for freedom of 
expression and of the press, Cameroonian law and practice have 
long restricted these freedoms. While there are no overt 
restrictions on private speech, some civil servants in 1991 
reported having been subjected to involuntary transfers, 
suspension from their duties, and other administrative 
sanctions as a result of their membership in or support of 
opposition political parties. Such actions appear to have been 
at the initiative of overzealous supporters of the Government 
or ruling CPDM and do not appear to be derived from government 
policy. 

In late 1990, a new law established more liberal regulations 
for the creation of newspapers and magazines and opened the 
door to eventual private broadcasting. That same law, however, 
formally enshrined prepublication censorship and granted the 
Minister of Territorial Administration authority to suspend the 
right to publish. While censorship and suspensions may be 
appealed, the competent court is not obliged to rule until 1 
month has elapsed--with obvious ramifications for 
time-sensitive media. 

The Government publishes two official newspapers — the English 
and French editions of the Cameroon Tribune--and controls radio 
and television (the most important media). Most official 
journalists are civil servants who may be transferred to less 
desirable positions if they do not practice self-censorship. A 
number of television journalists were taken off the air in 1991 
following incidents in which they implied disagreement with 
government actions. The government-controlled broadcast media 
also provided disproportionately high levels of coverage to 
even minor CPDM functions while blacking out the most important 
oppostdon events. 



48 



CAMEROON 

The press was subjected to repeated attacks during 1991. In 
January two journalists, including prominent essayist Celestin 
Monga, were arrested and charged with having insulted the 
President, the l.'ational Assembly, and the judiciary in an "open 
letter" to President Biya. The arrests and trial provoked an 
international outcry and led to the first massive 
antigovernment demonstrations in Douala since independence. 
The journalists were convicted and given token sentences, but 
censorship was subsequently relaxed for several months. 

Censorship returned with a vengeance in June and July as 
seizures of newspapers multiplied rapidly. Even cartoons were 
censored. when one newspaper attempted to publish the second 
in a series of articles concerning the report on Cameroon in 
the U.S. Department of State's Country Reports on Human Rights 
Practices for 1990, the entire page was censored. Although the 
law requires that publishers be notified of seizure orders, 
that prescription was seldom followed in practice, and security 
forces frequently entered kiosks and bookstores and confiscated 
copies of putatively offensive publications without formal 
authority. 

On July 22, Minister of Information and Culture Augustin 
Kontchou Kouomegni set up a special newspaper reading unit at 
the national printing company charged with detecting and 
censoring anything the Government deemed unworthy of 
publication. Legally, this Ministry has no authority to censor 
anything, but neither President Biya nor Prime Minister Hayatou 
ordered Kontchou to dismantle the unit. Many publishers began 
to print their newspapers in Nigeria, and the Government 
continued its policy of seizures. Foreign publications 
imported into Cameroon are also occasionally seized. In 
October the Ministry of Information and Culture proposed a code 
of ethics for journalists and a draft law governing the 
exercise of the journalistic profession. The proposals angered 
journalists, who viewed them as another heavy-handed government 
attempt to censor them. 

After one newspaper published a document establishing that 
gendarmerie authorities in Douala had taken protection money 
from local merchants. Minister of Territorial Administration 
Gilbert Andze Tsoungui banned three independent newspapers. 
The newspapers responded by changing their names and continuing 
to publish. The Minister promptly banned the new 
publications. In mid-November, the bans on six of the (by that 
time) seven banned papers were lifted as part of an agreement 
between the Government and the opposition. On September 4, 
security forces in Douala attacked a group of journalists and 
other citizens protesting the banning of independent newspapers 
and invaded the offices of La Detente, where some of the 
protesters had taken refuge. Employing rubber truncheons and 
firing live ammunition and tear gas, the security forces 
brutally took some 40 persons into custody for several hours. 
Several of those detained reportedly suffered serious injuries, 
including broken limbs and at least one gunshot wound. 

There are no restrictions on academic freedom, though it is 
generally believed that CENER informants pervade the campus of 
the University of Yaounde. Some university professors believe 
that their political viewpoints and activism have had a 
negative impact on professional opportunities and advancement. 



49 



CAMEROON 

b. Freedom of Peaceful Assembly and Association 

Freedom of assembly" and association are provided for in law but 
are restricted in practice. Laws enacted in late 1990 
liberalized Cameroonians ' ability to form private associations 
and political parties but did not address the formation of 
labor unions (see Section 6.a.). The Penal Code prohibits 
public meetings, demonstrations, or processions without prior 
government approval. The 1990 law on freedom of association 
provided that Cameroonians may freely form associations simply 
by notifying the responsible administrative authority according 
to a set procedure. The authority is required formally to 
acknowledge that notification by issuing a receipt to the 
associations' organizers. Barring notification to the 
contrary, the group is considered to be a legal entity on the 
60th day after issuance of the administrative receipt. In 
practice, some administrators refused to issue the receipt 
called for by law, providing instead a piece of paper promising 
to deliver the receipt at a later date. As a result, a number 
of groups were put into a sort of legal limbo, neither 
authorized nor refused authorization. In mid-July Minister 
Tsoungui banned six groups on the grounds that they had engaged 
in activities not foreseen in their charters and had advocated 
civil disobedience. The organizations banned were: the 
self-described human rights groups, Cap-Liberte, Cameroon 
Organization for Human Rights (OCDH), and Human Rights Watch; 
the women's rights group. Collective of Women for the New Deal 
(CFR); the Cameroon Professional Drivers Association; and the 
Sportsmen's Association of Cameroon. Although the law permits 
organizations to appeal a banning order, the groups were unable 
to commence action for nearly 6 weeks because the Government 
refused to provide the official notification of banning 
required by the law until about August 22. Meanwhile, law 
enforcement and administrative authorities took action to 
prevent the groups in question from holding meetings. 

Authorities continue occasionally to compel citizens to attend 
rallies in support of the Government or the ruling party. In 
March, for example, the subprefect for Maroua wrote a decree 
ordering traditional rulers in his jurisdiction to participate 
in a CPDM meeting, warning that "no absence would be tolerated.' 

The 1990 law on political parties established criteria for the 
formation of political parties. Although some political party 
leaders expressed suspicion that the Government was 
unreasonably delaying authorization of their parties, there is 
no evidence that government officials failed to respect the 
letter of the law in that respect. By the end of 1991, more 
than 40 political parties were in existence. 

The Government's record on permitting parties to carry out 
their activities is not nearly so positive. While the law 
calls for 7 days' advance notification to the responsible 
administrative authority of any public meeting or march, the 
ruling CPDM was on several occasions permitted to schedule 
demonstrations on less than 7 days' notice. Opposition 
parties, on the other hand, frequently experienced the 
frustration of having their marches canceled at the last minute 
by civil administrators citing vague threats to public 
security. As tensions rose in the period after May 16 — when 
the opposition called for concerted action against the central 
Government — some prefects banned all demonstrations of a 
political nature in their areas of responsibility. However, in 
a number of cases, the ruling CPDM was nonetheless permitted to 
continue to hold meetings and other functions. For several 



50 



CAMEROON 

months during 1991, the opposition Social Democratic Front 
(SDF) sponsored thrice-weekly marches in Bamenda, refusing to 
seek the required permit. 

c. Freedom of Religion 

Cameroon is a secular state. There is no established 
religion. Roughly 25 percent of Cameroonians are Muslims, 40 
percent are Christians, and the rest follow traditional 
beliefs. Some blend elements of Christianity with traditional 
practices. Officials of the Government and the CPDM include 
members of all three groups. Freedom of religion is provided 
for in the Constitution, but a religious group must be approved 
and registered with the Ministry of Territorial Administration 
in order to exist and function legally. In 1991 a small group 
called Universal was banned without explanation in the 
Southwest Province. Government officials state that no 
Jehovah's Witnesses are imprisoned as a result of their beliefs 
and that the Witnesses, banned from 1970 until 1990, are now 
free to practice their religion. While there have been 
isolated incidents of religious intolerance, the Government 
discourages such acts, and most Cameroonians are proud of their 
tradition of religious harmony. 

The Government does not discourage the practice of traditional 
religions. Acts of witchcraft, divination, or magic "liable to 
disrupt public order or tranquility, or to harm persons or 
property" are outlawed, with potential penalties of up to 10 
years' imprisonment. Missionaries played a major role in the 
development of Cameroon and continue to be active. Foreign 
clergy suffer no ill-treatment. There are no particular 
restrictions on places of worship, the training of clergy, 
religious education, or participation in charitable 
activities. Conversions are common. Independent Christian and 
Muslim publications exist in Cameroon, and there is no evidence 
they are more heavily censored than is the secular press. 
There are no restrictions on religious travel, such as the hajj. 

d. Freedom of Movement Within the Country, Foreign 
Travel, Emigration, and Repatriation 

Freedom of movement within the country is not restricted by 
law. Police frequently stop travelers to check identification 
documents, vehicle registrations, and tax receipts as a 
security and immigration control measure. After the onset of 
widespread civil unrest in mid-May, the checks became pervasive 
and occasionally oppressive. Ordinary citizens were at times 
hindered in going about their business by as many as 10 
roadblocks within a 100-kilometer stretch of highway. 
Personnel manning these roadblocks frequently solicit bribes to 
speed passage. Authorities sometimes employed these roadblocks 
to limit the activities of political parties. At one time, the 
road between Douala and Yaounde was closed for 2 days as part 
of a government effort to prevent opposition sympathizers from 
traveling to the capital. 

The Government has sometimes used its passport control function 
against those it considers real or potential threats. Writer 
and economist Celestin Monga ' s passport was seized at Douala 
International Airport on orders of the national police chief in 
late August without legal justification. Monga said he was 
told his passport was "a privilege granted to you by the 
national chief of police, and he may withdraw it at any time." 
During the same period, five opposition leaders had their 
planned visit to France in late August disrupted by the 



51 



CAMEROON 

Government's decision to delay their departure through 
temporary passport seizures and other administrative means. 
After the Bank of Credit and Commerce International (BCCI) 
collapsed in late June, many Cameroonian residents of Pakistani 
and Indian nationality having no connection to BCCI or its 
Cameroonian affiliate were temporarily prevented from traveling 
outside the country by confiscation of their passports. 

Over the years, Cameroon has served as a safe haven for 
thousands of displaced persons and refugees. An estimated 
35,000 refugees are currently in Cameroon. The majority are 
Chadians who arrived in the early 1980 's and who live, 
unregistered, in border areas. In December 1990, an additional 
influx of 3,500 refugees entered Cameroon after the fall of the 
Habre government in Chad. Most returned to Chad in early 
1991. The latest group of Chadian refugees came to Cameroon in 
October 1991. Numbering about 1,000, they are being assisted 
by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees in the 
Poll Faro refugee camp. Although Cameroon occasionally returns 
illegal Chadian immigrants, there were no reports of forced 
repatriation of recognized refugees in 1991. 

Section 3 Respect for Political Rights: The Right of Citizens 
to Change Their Government 

Major legal changes effected late in 1990, if fully and fairly 
implemented, would permit a return to the functioning 
multiparty system abandoned in 1966. Throughout 1991, however, 
Cameroon continued to be a de facto one-party state with 
political power and administrative authority concentrated in 
the Presidency. The President appoints all cabinet members, 
governors, and prefects. The Prime Minister, whose position 
was restored by constitutional amendment in 1991, has 
considerable responsibility in the economic sphere but no power 
to remove ministers or to deal directly with the National 
Assembly. However, the elected National Assembly continued a 
recent trend toward playing a more active role in determining 
the country's direction. 

During the year, many opposition political parties were 
authorized. Widespread dissatisfaction with the Government and 
the CPDM boosted opposition parties' popularity. A coalition 
was formed among the opposition parties which demanded that the 
Government hold a national conference. The Government refused, 
arguing that such a meeting would be nondemocratic and 
extraconstitut ional . In response, the opposition organized a 
series of general strikes and acts of civil disobedience, known 
as "Operation Ghost Towns," which lasted from mid-May until 
early December. In December President Biya promulgated a new 
electoral code, which, together with constitutional amendments 
enacted earlier, delineates a parliamentary system under which 
the Prime Minister would be chosen from the party or parties 
comprising the National Assembly's majority. In October 
President Biya announced that multiparty elections would be 
held on February 16, 1992. At year's end, most opposition 
parties were lobbying strongly for a date in late May amid 
numerous credible reports of irregularities in the voter 
registration process. 

Section 4 Governmental Attitude Regarding International and 

Nongovernmental Investigation of Alleged Violations 
of Human Rights 

In November President Biya named members to the National 
Committee on Human Rights And Liberties which he had created a 



50-726 - 92 



52 



CAMEROON 

year earlier. At year's end, government officials indicated 
that these members would be installed in January 1992. The 
decree which established the committee stipulated that it would 
act as Cameroon's official link to nongovernmental 
organizations concerned about human rights issues. 

Section 5 Discrimination Based on Race, Sex, Religion, 
Language, or Social Status 

Access to the Government's social programs is open to all 
Cameroonian citizens on a nondiscriminatory basis. President 
Biya has repeatedly stressed publicly the dangers of tribalism, 
but there remains deep-seated suspicion among ethnic groups, to 
which government officials are far from immune. Cameroon is 
officially bilingual, but the Anglophone minority (20 percent) 
often charges that it is denied economic opportunity and real 
political power. The Francophone Bamileke, the country's 
largest single ethnic group (also about 20 percent of the 
population), level similar charges against the rest of the body 
politic. Following unrest at Yaounde University in April and 
May, security forces frequently targeted Anglophone and 
Bamileke students for harassment solely because of their 
linguistic/ethnic affiliation. Most observers agree that 
interethnic animosity became more open and more venomous during 
1991. Independent newspapers associated with the opposition 
frequently attacked the Beti, while those close to the 
Government fulminated against the Bamileke, Anglophones, and, 
to a lesser extent. Northerners. 

Women are granted equal rights under the Constitution, and some 
are politically active in the party and the sole legal labor 
federation. However, significant cultural pressure is brought 
to bear on women to remain subservient to men. Polygamy is 
permitted by law and tradition, but polyandry is not. The 
extent to which a woman may inherit from her husband is 
normally governed by customary law in the absence of a will, 
and traditions vary from group to group. In cases of divorce, 
the husband's wishes determine custody of children over the age 
of six. A married woman may not legally obtain contraceptives 
without her husband's consent; neither may she be sterilized 
without his authorization. While a man can be convicted of 
adultery only if the sexual act takes place in his home, a 
female can be convicted irrespective of venue. 

In many traditional societies, custom grants greater authority 
and benefits to male than to female heirs. The percentage of 
female secondary school students increased by 45 percent 
between 1970 and 1986. Girls made up 45.7 percent of primary 
school pupils in 1986, but that percentage drops to 38.3 
percent at the secondary level and to only 14 percent at 
university level. 

Women's rights advocates report that violence against women has 
surged in the past 2 years, and the law does not impose 
effective penalties against violators. Wife beating is not, of 
itself, a legal ground for divorce. Most women regard having 
been the victim of a sexual assault as so profoundly shameful 
that they cannot bring themselves to confront the assailant. 
The commission investigating the behavior of security forces 
during unrest at Yaounde University wrote, "We found that the 
chances that there were rapes are very high, but no young woman 
presented herself to be heard." Frequently, a victim's family 
or village takes matters into its own hands and imposes direct, 
summary punishment upon the suspected perpetrator through means 
ranging from destruction of property to lynching. 



53 



CAME ROON 

While there are no reliable statistics on the frequency with 
which violence against women takes place, newspaper articles 
indicate the frequency is high. Female circumcision is not 
common in Cameroon-. It is practiced by a limited number of 
traditional Muslim families and is almost unheard of in other 
groups . 

Section 6 Worker Rights 

a. The Right of Association 

The 1990 law on associations specifically excluded trade 
unions, and there is still no law pertaining to the 
organization of trade unions. There are reports of at least 
three nascent trade unions that find themselves unable to 
function fully because of the ambiguity of their status. Civil 
servants are not permitted to join trade unions. 

The Organization of United Cameroonian Workers (OSTC) , the 
umbrella group for the country's officially sanctioned trade 
unions, announced during 1991. that, because Cameroon was moving 
toward a multiparty system, it had severed its formal links 
with the ruling CPDM and would henceforth be neutral within the 
context of party politics. 

Strikes are authorized only on a few, severely restricted 
grounds; likewise, political activity by trade unions, except 
for action designed to protect economic and other interests, is 
prohibited. Strikes do occur, however, though they are usually 
directed at single enterprises and seldom last more than a few 
days. Most strikes during 1991 were by employees of 
government-owned enterprises seeking payment of overdue wages 
and salaries. Most strikes were settled through negotiation, 
but the Government showed mixed tolerance for strikers trying 
to attract the attention of higher authorities to their 
concerns . 

The OSTC is a member of the continentwide official trade union 
body, the Organization of African Trade Union Unity, but all 
contact with foreign trade union organizations requires 
government authorization. 

The International Labor Organization's (ILO) Committee of 
Experts (COE) noted once again in 1991 that various legislative 
provisions, which regulate the right of public servants to 
organize, restrict their right to strike, and ban foreign 
workers from trade union office, are inconsistent with ILO 
Convention 87 on freedom of association. 

b. The Right to Organize and Bargain Collectively 

Although the Labor Code recognizes the right of trade unions or 
trade union federations to engage in collective bargaining with 
employers or groups of employers, true collective bargaining 
between employers and workers is rare. Under the law, all 
employers of more than 10 workers must permit the election of a 
worker representative from among the employees. This worker 
representative has a statutory right to discuss labor 
conditions with the employer on behalf of the employees and 
enjoys special protection from arbitrary dismissal. Candidates 
for these positions must be approved by the OSTC. While the 
Labor Code does not provide specific penalties for those who 
violate its provisions, it does state that any act in 
contravention of its provisions shall be null and void. Also, 



54 



CAMEROON 

employees may, and often successfully do, pursue formal labor 
complaints, which often include demands for payment of damages. 

There are no export processing zones in Cameroon, but one is in 
the formative stages, and others are under consideration. 
Legislation enacted to govern operations within such zones 
states that "the current terms and conditions of employment 
must be consistent with internationally accepted workers' 
rights . " 

c. Prohibition of Forced or Compulsory Labor 

Forced labor is prohibited by the Labor Code. However, 
concerns expressed in 1990 by the ILO's Conference Committee on 
the Application of Conventions and Recommendations concerning 
the use of prison labor (inmates from Cameroon's "production 
prisons" are sometimes rented out to private employers as day 
labor) remained valid in 1991. There have been reports of 
communal labor being employed in some traditional societies. 
In December the government-owned newspaper reported that 
"slavery is still practiced" in Rey Bouba (see also Section 
l.d.). 

d. Minimum Age for Employment of Children 

The Labor Code sets the minimum working age at 14 — a rule that 
appears to be respected and enforced in the modern wage 
sector . Inspectors from the Ministry of Labor are empowered to 
enforce provisions of Cameroon's Labor Code, as are labor 
courts. In rural areas, where 80 percent of Cameroon's 
citizens engage in farming, children participate at an early 
age in agricultural work alongside adults. In addition, young 
relatives, especially girls from rural areas, are often 
employed in the household as domestics. Street vendors in 
urban areas are occasionally under age 14. 

e. Acceptable Conditions of Work 

Minimum monthly wages are set by the Government for all public 
and private sector jobs and cover a wide range. These rates 
are determined by a complex formula which takes into account 
geographic location, education, experience, and profession and 
type of industry. The Ministry of Labor is responsible for 
making the necessary calculations. Most workers in the modern 
sector are paid well in excess of the minimum wage. The lowest 
wages are insufficient to support a family but usually are 
supplemented by a second job or another family member's 
earnings. Workers with middle-range wages also are likely to 
need second incomes to support a family, especially in Yaounde 
and Douala. 

Under the Labor Code, the minimum annual paid vacation is 18 
days, and the legal workweek ranges from 40 hours for 
nonagricultural employees to 56 hours per week for security 
guards. In order to make room for younger workers, civil 
servants are encouraged to retire upon reaching the minimum 
retirement age of 55. The Ministry of Labor sets health and 
safety standards, which are enforced by labor inspectors. 
Enforcement of standards varies. Labor inspectors will 
generally investigate complaints and frequently find for the 
complainant. However, many employees are loath to file 
complaints, and spot inspections are rare. 



55 



CAPE VERDE 



In 1991 Cape Verde became the first African country to change 
governments peacefully following a popular election won by an 
opposition party. - Dr. Antonio Mascarenhas Monteiro, an 
independent, won over 70 percent of the popular vote in the 
February elections and was inaugurated as President in March 
1991. The Movement for Democracy (MPD) , headed by Dr. Carlos 
Wahnon de Carvalho Veiga, also won over 70 percent of the 
popular vote in the January legislative elections. The new 
Government, with Carlos Veiga as Prime Minister and concurrent 
Defense Minister, was invested in April. Both the President 
and the Prime Minister came to office with strong human rights 
credentials . 

The new Government began in 1991 to reorganize and democratize 
the security forces, including disbanding the secret police. 
It accelerated preparations to create a coast guard as a 
nucleus of a reorganized military force, dedicated to the 
protection of Cape Verde's exclusive economic zone and to drug 
interdiction. Control of the police and local administration 
are being decentralized and will be in the hands of locally 
elected mayors and municipal councils. The police force is 
being demilitarized and patterned after police forces in 
Western democracies. 

Cape Verde has few exploitable natural resources, aside from an 
attractive climate, a hardworking population (350,000), and a 
strategically placed geographic position. Cape Verdeans have a 
long history of economically driven emigration, primarily to 
Western Europe and the United States. In 1991 Cape Verde, 
which is unable to produce enough food to feed its population 
in years of optimum rainfall, experienced its worst drought 
since 1985, requiring substantial international food aid. The 
Government set in motion plans to privatize many of Cape 
Verde's state-owned firms and to base future development on the 
private sector. 

In 1991 the human rights climate in Cape Verde improved 
significantly with the change from an authoritarian, Marxist 
centralized government. The first decision taken by the Veiga 
Government prohibits private or official investigations of 
citizens to determine their political affiliation. The 
Government's 5-year plan, adopted at the first multiparty 
National Assembly session in June, enshrined a commitment to 
pluralistic democracy and a basic liberal economic framework. 
The new Government disbanded the popular militas and the 
popular courts, which had been instruments of party and 
government control, and established a human rights commission 
to serve as a watchdog against human rights abuses. 

RESPECT FOR HUMAN RIGHTS 

Section 1 Respect for the Integrity of the Person, Including 
Freedom from: 

a. Political and Other Extrajudicial Killing 

There were no reported instances of political or other 
extrajudicial killings in 1991. 

b. Disappearance 

There were no reported instances of disappearances. 



56 



CAPE VERDE 

c. Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading 
Treatment or Punishment 

Police brutality has not been a problem in 1990 and 1991. In 
1991 one of the first acts of the new Government was to disband 
the secret police, which had been accused in the past of 
abusing prisoners. There was no evidence of torture or other 
cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment during the 
year . 

d. Arbitrary Arrest, Detention, or Exile 

Cape Verdean law requires that an accused person, unless caught 
in the act of committing a crime, be brought before a judge to 
be charged within 48 hours of arrest. Additionally, a person 
may not be arrested without court order unless caught in the 
act of committing a felony. In exceptional cases, with the 
concurrence of a court official, the formal charge process may 
be delayed up to 5 days after the arrest. These provisions are 
observed in practice. 

However, for crimes against state security, persons may be 
detained for up to 5 months without trial upon a judge's 
ruling. Prior to 1991, this loophole was occasionally abused, 
especially in cases of arbitrary arrest by members of the 
"popular militia," a paramilitary organization associated with 
the former ruling party but disbanded by the new Government. 
There were no known security detentions in 1991. There is a 
functioning system of bail, and everyone is entitled to 
representation by an attorney in civil or criminal cases. 

There were no known instances of forced exile for political or 
other reasons . 

e. Denial of Fair Public Trial 

The judicial system includes a Supreme Court, whose members are 
appointed by the Government, and regional courts. The 
autonomous Institute for Judicial Support, to which most 
private lawyers belong, provides counsel for indigent 
defendants. Trials are conducted by one judge, without a jury, 
and appear to be handled expeditiously. Trials are public, and 
evidence suggests that the courts protect individual rights in 
criminal cases. Verdicts may be appealed. Regional courts 
adjudicate minor disputes on a local level in rural areas. The 
judges, appointees of the Ministry of Justice, are usually 
prominent local citizens without legal training. 
Regional court decisions may be appealed to the Supreme Court. 

In 1991 it was widely perceived that there had been increased 
judicial independence under the new Government. There were no 
known political prisoners at the end of 1991. 

f. Arbitrary Interference with Privacy, Family, Home, or 
Correspondence 

The Constitution recognizes the citizen's rights to the 
inviolability of domicile, correspondence, and other means of 
communication, and these rights are respected in practice. The 
law requires warrants issued by a judge before searches of 
homes may be conducted. 



57 



CAPE VERDE 
Section 2 Respect for Civil Liberties, Including: 

a. Freedom of Speech and Press 

The Constitution proclaims freedom of speech and intellectual 
creativity, including the rights of authorship. However, it 
also stipulates that none of these rights and freedoms may be 
exercised "contrary to national unity." While freedom of the 
press is not a specific constitutional guarantee, a law adopted 
in December 1985 assures citizens the right to express their 
thoughts in the press in a responsible manner. Although the 
term "responsible manner" is not defined in law, no journalist 
or newspaper has been punished for actions considered to be 
irresponsible. There is no evidence to indicate that 
self-censorship is a significant factor in Cape Verde. 

Throughout 1991, the most widely read newspaper, the radio, and 
the television, all government owned, gave balanced coverage to 
government and opposition viewpoints. The first multiparty 
National Assembly session was broadcast live in its entirety. 
After the new Government was invested, the official newspaper 
Vozdipovo dedicated the first page to letters to the editor, 
generally half supportive and half critical of the Government. 

The Prime Minister announced at midyear that the Government 
would no longer subsidize advertisements by state-owned firms 
in the major opposition newspaper. The Government said it had 
no obligation to subsidize a partisan journal through its 
advertising. The move was seen as giving unfair advantage to 
the ruling party. Local radio broadcasts carry items from a 
variety of international press sources, generally balancing 
coverage and identifying sources on controversial international 
issues . 

b. Freedom of Peaceful Assembly and Association 

The 1980 Constitution provided for the freedom to assemble, 
associate, and demonstrate; however, in practice these freedoms 
were limited to the party meetings and groups in power until 
1990. In 1990 the National Assembly adopted a law permitting 
political associations to form and assemble publicly, and 
subsequently it legalized political opposition parties. By 
early 1991, two political parties contested the democratic 
elections, the African Party for the Independence of Cape Verde 
(PAICV, the Government) and the MPD . Later in 1991, the 
Independent and Democratic Cape Verde Union (UCID) was also 
legalized as a political party by the Supreme Court. 

c. Freedom of Religion 

The Constitution requires separation of church and state. 
Freedom of worship is respected by the Government; members of 
all faiths practice their religion without harassment. Some 80 
to 90 percent of the population, including much of the 
government leadership, is nominally Catholic. 

There are no restrictions on religious practices, teaching, or 
contacts with coreligionists outside Cape Verde. Foreign 
missionaries operate freely in Cape Verde; more than half of 
the Catholic clergy are foreigners. Cape Verdean immigration 
law requires that missionaries applying for residence belong to 
a denomination with a recognized membership in Cape Verde. In 
this context, two American Mormon missionaries were asked to 
leave Cape Verde in 1989 after their visitor's visas expired; 
however, American Mormon missionaries were readmitted to Cape 



58 



CAPE VERDE 

Verde in 1990, and in 1991 the American Nazarenne Evangelists 
opened three new churches. There is also a small community of 
Muslims who are free to practice in Praia. 

d. Freedom of Movement within the Country, Foreign 
Travel, Emigration, and Repatriation 

There are no extraordinary legal or administrative restrictions 
on travel or residence in Cape Verde. Indeed, the Government 
maintains an office to serve intending emigrants. A law 
requiring citizens wishing to leave, either temporarily or 
permanently, to obtain an exit permit was abolished in late 
1991. Permission has not been denied for political reasons. 
Historically, emigration has been an important and recognized 
means to escape from harsh economic conditions. The Government 
maintains close contact with emigre communities and encourages 
Cape Verdeans living abroad, including dual nationals, to 
maintain ties with their homeland. Nationality laws were 
passed in 1990 to permit Cape Verdeans who had accepted a 
second nationality to reapply for Cape Verdean citizenship. 

Repatriation is a constitutional right that is not discouraged 
by the Government. On the other hand, the law allows for 
revocation of citizenship on several grounds, including 
activities contrary to the interest of the country. However, 
there were no known cases of the Government having instituted 
proceedings to deprive persons of citizenship or residence in 
Cape Verde for political reasons. This includes the period of 
the hotly contested legislative and presidential elections in 
early 1991, when Cape Verdeans resident abroad challenged the 
incumbent Government . 

Section 3 Respect for Political Rights: The Right of Citizens 
to Change Their Government 

After 15 years of one-party, postcolonial rule by the PAICV, 
Democracy came to Cape Verde in January 1991. For the first 
time Cape Verdean citizens had a clear choice between 
candidates, and they flocked to the polls to elect new 
legislative leadership. The opposition party, the MPD, won 
with over 70 percent of the popular vote. Cape Verdeans 
repeated this performance 1 month later, by electing President 
Antonio Mascarenhas, over the long-time PAICV incumbent 
Aristides Pereira. During the campaign, the victors promised 
democracy, scrupulous observance of human rights, and economic 
liberalization. Throughout 1991 Cape Verde's new leadership 
has made efforts to carry out its campaign promises. Members 
of the former government indicated acceptance of their role as 
the opposition, and the PAICV began reorganizing itself with 
the aim of contesting future elections. 

The local elections held in mid-December were the final phase 
in freely electing political institutions at all levels of 
government. The predominant campaign themes centered on social 
justice and a fair distribution of scarce resources. The 
elections were orderly, and there was no evidence of electoral 
fraud. 

Under the former PAICV-dominated government, the Presidency 
gained greatly enhanced powers. Specifically, the President is 
authorized to appoint and dismiss the Prime Minister subject 
only to parliamentary confirmation, to dissolve the National 
Assembly, within certain restrictions, and to veto 
legislation. An absolute majority is required for the 
legislature to override a veto. During the 1991 legislative 



59 



CAPE VERDE 

campaign, the MPD vowed to rewrite the Constitution with one of 
the announced aims to diminish presidential powers. 
Subsequently, to allow time for public consultations, the new 
Governm.ent postponed introducing a new Constitution to the 
National Assembly until 1992. 

Section 4 Governmental Attitude Regarding International and 

Nongovernmental Investigation of Alleged violations 
of Human Rights 

While there are no official restrictions, no private human 
rights groups have formed to date. In late 1991, the 
Government established a human rights commission with the 
objective of raising popular consciousness of the need for 
respect for human rights at the individual and institutional 
levels. Cape Verde has traditionally cooperated fully with 
representatives of private human rights organizations who visit 
Cape Verde periodically to investigate alleged violations. 

Section 5 Discrimination Based on Race, Sex, Religion, 
Language, or Social Status 

Racial discrimination is not a problem in Cape Verde where the 
vast majority of the population shares Portuguese and African 
ancestry. Sex discrimination is banned by the Constitution, 
and the family code, enacted in October 1981, prescribes the 
full equality of men and women in law, including equal pay for 
equal work. However, traditional male-oriented Portuguese and 
African values predominate, and women are, in fact, excluded 
from certain types of employment and are often paid less than 
men. Educational statistics show 53 percent male/47 percent 
female enrollments through secondary school, 30/70 percent in 
the technical school, and 55/45 percent in the teachers' 
training school . 

In 1991 the Government made efforts to involve more women in 
political, economic, and social activities. In addition to 
naming two women as secretaries of state, women also were 
appointed head of the hospital in Cape Verde's second largest 
city, head of the largest state-owned enterprise, head of the 
national health program, and head of the health program for 
Praia, the largest municipality. A conscious effort is made to 
employ women in labor-intensive economic development projects 
financed by foreign grants. The Organization of Cape Verdean 
Women was founded in 1980, with government encovaragement , to 
sensitize the citizenry to issues affecting women. It 
continues to operate, even though it no longer is subsidized by 
the new Government . 

Domestic violence against women, including wife beating, 
remains common, particularly in the rural areas. Crimes such 
as rape and spouse abuse are rarely brought to the attention of 
the police or tried in the courts. Neither the Government nor 
the womens ' organizations has addressed directly the issue of 
violence against women. The Ministry of Health and Social 
Affairs has undertaken, with U.S. financial assistance, to 
publicize the civil and human rights of women and children. 

Section 6 Worker Rights 

a. The Right of Association 

All workers are legally free to form and join unions of their 
choosing, and no longer must belong to the National Union of 
Cape Verde Workers--Trade Union Confederation (UNTC-CS) . In 



60 



CAPE VERDE 

1991 the new Government broke all ties, including subsidies, to 
the UNTC-CS which had been controlled by the previous 
government and party in power. The UNTC-CS has attempted to 
adapt to the new situation and in 1991, for the first time, 
took positions independent of those of the Government. In 
addition to suffering serious financial problems, UNTC-CS 
membership declined as Cape Verde began to privatize the 
economy with a subsequent loss of patronage jobs in the heavily 
staffed public sector of the economy. 

Legislation passed in September 1990 guarantees workers the 
legal right to strike. There were periodic strikes throughout 
1991, most frequently in the state-owned organizations. Unions 
are now free to affiliate internationally, and the UNTC-CS 
joined the International Confederation of Free Trade Unions in 
1991 . 

b. The Right to Organize and Bargain Collectively 

Legislation provides the right to organize and function without 
hindrance. Workers and management reach agreement through 
collective bargaining in the small private sector. However, 
despite the new Government's plans to denationalize, it 
remains the largest employer and continues to play a dominant 
role in setting wages and other benefits for most of the 
economy. Cape Verde does not have an export processing zone. 

c. Prohibition of Forced or Compulsory Labor 
Forced labor is forbidden by law and is not practiced. 

d. Minimum Age for Employment of Children 

The minimum age for employment is 14, and children under 16 are 
prohibited from working at night, for more than 7 hours per 
day, or in establishments where toxic products are used. There 
is no enforcement mechanism for minimum age laws, but 
observance is not a problem in the small informal sector of an 
economy in which unemployment and underemployment approached 70 
percent of the work force. 

e. Acceptable Conditions of Work 

Minimum wage rates are established by the Government for both 
the public and private sectors. These minimum wages are not 
sufficient to provide a worker and his family a decent standard 
of living, and most workers must rely on a combination of 
second jobs, extended family help, or subsistence agriculture. 
All enterprises must submit a yearly report to the Director 
General of Labor with information on salaries and wages of all 
employees. This provides the Government with a vehicle for 
controlling employment practices. 

The normal workweek for adults is 44 hours over 5 1/2 days, 
with at least 1 free day per week. While large employers 
generally respect these regulations and minimum wage standards, 
many employed in domestic service or by small employers in 
rural areas do not enjoy legally mandated work conditions. 
There does not appear to be an overall safety and health code, 
although some regulations exist in this area. The Director 
General of Labor, under the Ministry of Justice, Public 
Administration and Labor, is responsible for enforcing labor 
regulations. However, Cape Verde has few industries that 
employ heavy or dangerous equipment, and work-related accidents 
are uncommon. Consequently, there is no systematic government 
enforcement of labor laws. 



61 



CENTRAL AFRICAN REPUBLIC 



The Central African Republic (C.A.R.) has been ruled since 1981 
by General Andre Dieudonne Kolingba, who came to power in a 
bloodless coup and', with backing from the military, has since 
exercised virtually full political control. In 1986 General 
Kolingba was elected unopposed to a 6-year term as President, 
and a Constitution was adopted establishing a National 
Assembly. The following year the Central African Democratic 
Assembly Party (RDC) was formed as the sole legal party. Faced 
with growing public discontent. General Kolingba announced in 
April 1991 that other parties legally registered by the 
Ministry of the Interior could compete with the RDC for 
legislative elections in March 1992 and for presidential 
elections in November 1992. At year's end there were 15 
registered parties, and the Government continued to move slowly 
toward political liberalization. 

The Ministry of Defense controls military and national 
gendarmerie forces totaling 4,000 troops. These forces share 
internal security responsibilities with the civilian police 
force under the Ministry of Public Security, which is 
responsible for normal police functions. President Kolingba 
controls a 1,400-man presidential security force led by 150 
French advisers. 

The C.A.R. is a landlocked and sparsely populated country, most 
of whose inhabitants practice subsistence agriculture. The 
principal agricultural exports are coffee, cotton, timber, and 
tobacco. Since 1982 the Government has tried to implement 
economic structural reforms in cooperation with international 
donors. However, with continuing unfavorable world economic 
trends and corruption and mismanagement in government, progress 
has remained elusive. Also, workers became increasingly 
discontented in 1991, and labor unrest throughout the year 
paralyzed the economy and public administration. 

Human rights remained circumscribed in 1991. Major abuses were 
the use of arbitrary arrest and detention against political 
opponents and workers; repeated interference in the judicial 
process; and continued abridgements of freedoms of speech, 
press, assembly, and worker rights. More than 30 union members 
were arrested in July for essentially peaceful political 
activity. After holding dissident General Francois Bozize in 
detention for 2 years without charge or trial, the Government 
brought him and four of his associates — all of whom were 
forcibly repatriated from Benin in 1989 — to trial in 
September. The High Court of Justice acquitted Bozize and two 
others, but the Ministry of Justice refused to release them; 
the President subsequently pardoned them on December 1, along 
with all other political detainees. The Government's tactics 
against the growing opposition, including slow progress toward 
convening a national conference, undercut the progress made in 
political party formation and the Government's promise of free 
elections . 

RESPECT FOR HUMAN RIGHTS 

Section 1 Respect for the Integrity of the Person, Including 
Freedom from: 

a. Political and Other Extrajudicial Killing 

There were no reports of politically motivated killings, but 
there were a few reports of extrajudicial killing. In January 
a government official announced that Pierre Wanga and three 



62 



C ENTRAL AFRICAN REPUBLIC 

others had been beaten while in police custody in 1990 and that 
Wanga had died as a result. Although the Government announced 
that there would be a complete investigation and that suspects 
had been arrested, there was no subsequent announcement 
concerning judicial action. 

In August government soldiers killed an unknown number of 
youths under questionable circumstances at a coffee storage 
warehouse outside of Bangui. Officials of the Central African 
League of Human Rights claimed the youths were students 
protesting government policy towards the opposition on property 
owned by a presidential ally; the Government charged that the 
youths were part of a bandit gang. During a demonstration on 
May 6 in Bangui against governmental education policy, a 
secondary school student was fatally injured by a tear gas 
canister fired by security forces. 

b. Disappearance 

There were no confirmed reports of politically motivated 
disappearance . 

c. Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading 
Treatment or Punishment 

The Penal Code prohibits torture and defines sanctions for 
those found guilty of physical abuse. Nonetheless, reports of 
police beatings of criminal suspects continue as in the case of 
Pierre Wanga. 

The physical conditions of Central African prisons are hard. 
One pro-opposition group reported that some of its members were 
jailed for up to 6 months from September 1990 to March 1991 in 
cramped cells without toilet facilities and only such food and 
other necessities as families could provide. 

d. Arbitrary Arrest, Detention, or Exile 

In 1991 the Government used detention to suppress political 
activity, holding labor activists and opposition supporters for 
protracted periods on charges of being a threat to state 
security. 

Persons detained in nonpolitical cases must be brought before a 
magistrate within 96 hours. In practice, inefficient judicial 
procedures often caused this deadline to be exceeded. Further, 
according to credible reports, three persons have been held in 
Ngaragba prison without charge or trial since March 1990, 
reportedly because they failed to pay a bribe to a local 
official. No system of bail exists, but sometimes persons are 
released on their own recognizance. 

Political detainees may be held without charge for up to 2 
months. The Government consistently ignored this limit or held 
persons without trial for long periods while preparing the 
State's case against them. The Government does not reveal the 
number of political detainees it holds. The number of those 
arrested and detained tended to rise during strikes and 
opposition activities. In January more than 50 prisoners were 
known to be in detention. In April the Government announced 
the release of 48 political prisoners, including Ruth Rolland 
and Phillipe Bolibo, both incarcerated for political opposition 
to the regime since 1989. Following a general amnesty on 
September 1, the total number of detainees dwindled to 11. At 



63 



CENTRAL AFRICAN REPUBLIC 

year's end, there were no known political detainees or 
prisoners being held. 

Other political dfetainees released during the year included 21 
members of the Coordinating Committee for the Convocation of a 
National Conference (CCCCN) . They were released in March after 
6-months ' incarceration on the grounds of insufficient evidence 
to warrant trial. The CCCCN group, which had called for a 
national conference independent of the ruling RDC congress, had 
been arrested in September and October 1990 for attending an 
opposition meeting. 

Among those detained in 1991 were Roger Poguy Magineaud, a 
businessman, detained and questioned for 7 days in May about 
his alleged political activities. During the first week of 
July, at least 25 people, including three prominent labor 
leaders, were arrested during strikes in Bangui (see Section 
6.a.). Most were detained following confrontations between 
police and workers at the labor union headquarters in Bangui 
and released on July 11, but the three union leaders were 
charged with inciting violence and given suspended sentences of 
1 to 3 years on July 31. 

Concerned relatives and opposition leaders claimed that several 
youths were arrested following the demonstrations on May 4-6 
and flown to Birao in the furthest northeast corner of the 
country. Criminals and "undesirables" have been exiled there 
in the past. The authorities acknowledged that government 
policy directs the police to arrest youths not possessing valid 
identification and work papers, but they did not provide 
specific information on this case. 

Exile is not permitted in law and is not practiced by the 
Government, but a number of political opponents have left the 
country to avoid government sanctions. Among well-known 
self-exiles are Rodolph Iddi-Lala, currently in Togo, and Ange 
Patasse, currently in Paris. 

e. Denial of Fair Public Trial 

The judiciary consists of regular and military courts, with the 
Supreme Court at the apex. In common criminal cases, the 
accused have a right to legal counsel at all stages, trials are 
public, and defendants have a right to be present. These 
safeguards generally apply in practice. Insufficient 
resources, however, including inadequate training of officials, 
sometimes hampers administration of the law, and persistent 
traditional beliefs regarding witchcraft and sorcery sometimes 
overcome strict adherence to formal rules of evidence. 

In political cases, the Government frequently interferes, and 
the procedural safeguards specified above do not apply. 
Created in 1988 to try "political" prisoners, the High Court of 
Justice heard its first cases in September 1991, those of 
General Francois Bozize and four codef endants . Political 
prisoners are generally defined in the Central African 
Constitution as persons who threaten state security. In a 
public trial, the Court unconditionally acquitted Bozize and 
two others of political charges but remanded the two 
codef endants to criminal court for further action. Although 
the High Court of Justice is constitutionally defined as the 
court of last appeal for political cases, the Minister of 
Justice refused to accept the verdict and immediately 
instituted new legal steps against Bozize and the two others. 
A three-judge panel subsequently decided that the three must 



64 



CENTRAL AFRICAN REPUBLIC 

stand trial again before the Supreme Court on charges stenuning 
from an alleged 1982 coup attempt. On December 1, the 
President pardoned Bozize and his codef endants . Some local 
human rights activists criticized the State's arbitrary 
handling of the Bozize case, including the sudden Presidential 
pardon and complained about official media coverage of the 
affair . 

The Ministry of Justice took several other steps to check 
growing judicial independence, creating the post of Inspector 
General charged with oversight of justice, removing the 
President of the Supreme Court, and replacing the president of 
a tribunal which had ruled to annul a government decision to 
suspend six union federations. 

f. Arbitrary Interference with Privacy, Family, Home, or 
Correspondence 

The Government rarely abused legal prohibitions on invasion of 
the home without a warrant in civil and criminal cases, but in 
political and security cases, police are legally permitted to 
search private property without written authorization and do so 
in practice. The Government maintains a close watch on 
citizens who are suspected of opposing it. To combat local 
crime, including robbery and assault, the RDC political party 
created citizens' action groups called vigilance committees in 
1988, consisting of 20 volunteers per neighborhood. These 
committees have sometimes intruded on police responsibilities 
but in general were less active in 1991. 

Civil servants were not required to join the ruling RDC, but 
there were strong social pressures to join, particularly in the 
case of those holding high-level positions. 

Section 2 Respect for Civil Liberties, Including: 

a. Freedom of Speech and Press 

The right of private citizens to speak publicly about political 
developments or to criticize the Government is circumscribed, 
although most people feel free to comment privately on 
political affairs. The National Assembly provides a 
constitutional forum for public discussion of government 
policies, but since the Assembly is traditionally obedient to 
the executive, few citizens follow Assembly debates or approach 
their representatives with concerns. 

Newspapers, radio, and television are all government owned and 
controlled. Unswerving in their support for President Kolingba 
and the RDC, the media do not provide objective coverage of 
important national political developments, including the Bozize 
trial (see Section I.e.). Despite a September pledge, the 
Government did not give opposition parties equal access to the 
national media. Domestic news favored upbeat stories and 
noncontroversial events, although the newspapers' awareness 
campaign about the acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS) 
through articles and advertisements addressed a major domestic 
health problem. Opposition parties and groups published and 
distributed manifestos, policy statements, and analyses of 
events, most often in typewritten and photocopied form. 

Reporting on international news was selective and avoided 
events that might have embarrassed friendly foreign 
governments, but radio broadcasts, over the course of the year. 



65 



CENTRAL AFRICAN REPUBLIC 

did cover reform of other single-party systems in Africa and 
Eastern Europe. 

Academic freedom. is limited: striking teachers in 1990 and 
1991 were important actors in maintaining pressures for 
political reform. 

b. Freedom of Peaceful Assembly and Association 

The right of assembly is constitutionally guaranteed but is 
restricted in practice. Several labor and student 
demonstrations were broken up by police, and the Ministry of 
the Interior banned a political rally in September. 

The Government addressed demands from a cross-section of 
Central African society for a national conference to discuss 
current political problems and the future political structure 
of the C.A.R. by promising in September to schedule for 
February 1992 a "national debate." No date had been set by 
year's end. The RDC declared in October 1990 its intention to 
pursue democratization within a single-party system. However, 
in April 1991 President Kolingba suddenly announced to the RDC 
leadership that he would permit mult ipartyism . In June the 
National Assembly drafted a law governing the formation, 
activities, and dissolution of political parties, and on July 4 
the law governing multiparty politics and setting standards for 
party registration took effect. This statute required 
submission of a dossier for each application containing 
information about the party leadership; police records of the 
party leaders; the statutes, program, and by-laws of the party; 
and the location of the party headquarters. If the Minister of 
Territorial Administration does not reject the application 
within 45 days, the party automatically becomes a legal 
entity. At the end of 1991, there were 15 registered parties, 
including the RDC. 

c. Freedom of Religion 

A variety of religious communities are active in the country, 
including traditional African faiths. Christian denominations, 
and Muslims. Most religious organizations and missionary 
groups are free to proselytize and worship. However, religious 
groups must register with the Government, and any group whose 
behavior is considered political in nature remains subject to 
sanctions . 

The Government's 1986 ban on the activities of the Jehovah's 
Witnesses community remained in effect on the grounds that this 
group's refusal to serve in the army or salute the flag 
constituted defiance of government authority. The 1989 ban on 
the activities of the Union of Evangelical Pentecostal Churches 
for "irresponsible conduct" remained in effect at the end of 
1991 . 

d. Freedom of Movement Within the Country, Foreign 
Travel, Emigration, and Repatriation 

While people were generally free to move within the country, 
police and other government officials at checkpoints along 
major roads sometimes harassed travelers unwilling or unable to 
pay bribes. The Government took steps in September to reduce 
this practice. The Government recognizes the right of 
voluntary travel and repatriation, and financial and 
educational constraints, rather than government controls, act 



66 



CENTRAL AFRICAN REPUBLIC 

to restrict most foreign travel and emigration. There were no 
known cases of revocation of citizenship. 

By the end of 1991, more than 10,000 Sudanese had fled civil 
strife in Sudan to seek safe haven in the remote southeastern 
corner of the C.A.R. In collaboration with U.N. agencies and 
private relief groups, the C.A.R. National Commission for 
Refugees is providing assistance to this group. The C.A.R. 
also continued to host 1,600 Chadian refugees, and at year's 
end the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees was still 
interviewing those who may choose to repatriate voluntarily. 

Section 3 Respect for Political Rights: The Right of Citizens 
to Change Their Government 

Despite constitutional guarantees, citizens were not able to 
change their government by democratic means in 1991, and until 
April only those candidates selected by the ruling RDC were 
legally permitted to contest National Assembly elections, next 
due in March 1992. The power and prerogatives of the 
President, who ran uncontested in the 1986 presidential 
elections, and the RDC were not subject to change from below. 
President Kolingba allowed his Cabinet some latitude in 
day-to-day government administration, but frequent cabinet 
changes minimized the effect of broadening this small base of 
executive decisionmaking. The President carefully controls 
political change, and it remained to be seen at year's end if 
the advent of mult ipartyism will bring true democratic reform. 

The Constitution grants the National Assembly the authority to 
debate and vote on bills proposed by the executive and to 
initiate legislation of its own. Assembly sessions sometimes 
involved criticism of the Government, and Deputies, who have 
immunity, did occasionally modify the language of proposed 
legislation. However, the Assembly rejected no legislation 
proposed by the executive in 1991. Its initial rejection of 
the Government's 1991 budget drew stern rebukes from the 
executive branch and was promptly overturned. It is rare that 
deputies cast negative votes or abstain. 

There are no legal impediments to the participation of citizens 
in the political process. In practice, women have generally 
not been appointed to high level ministerial positions in the 
Government. Of 88 ministers in Kolingba Governments over 10 
years, only 2 have been women. 

Section 4 Governmental Attitude Regarding International and 

Nongovernmental Investigation of Alleged Violations 
of Human Rights 

In September the National Assembly agreed to the creation of a 
National Human Rights Commission empowered to operate under the 
direct authority of the President. This appointive Commission 
draws members from a wide array of professions, and its goals 
and effectiveness remained unclear at year's end. In June 
human rights lawyer Nicholas Tiangaye also created the Central 
African Human Rights League (LCDH), a nongovernmental 
organization with the declared goals of publicizing human 
rights violations in Central Africa, implementing the 
international human rights accords to which C.A.R. is a party, 
lobbying the Government for improved human rights practices, 
and pleading individual cases of human rights abuses before the 
courts. The LCDH had some effect in calling attention to 
official abuses (see Section l.a.). 



67 



CENTRAL AFRICAN REPUBLIC 

In the past, the Government has permitted representatives of 
Amnesty International to visit Bangui on request, and the 
regional representative of the International Committee of the 
Red Cross (ICRC) visited Bangui in July. 

Section 5 Discrimination Based on Race, Sex, Religion, 
Language, or Social Status 

The Constitution mandates that all persons are ecjual before the 
law without regard to wealth, race, or religion. In practice, 
however, some minorities receive unequal treatment. The 
forest-dwelling Bayaka, commonly known as Pygmies, are subject 
to discrimination and exploitation which the Government has 
done little to correct. Pygmies are often hired by villagers 
to work for wages much lower than those received by other 
groups. Muslims, particularly Mbororo (Peuhl) herders, are 
sometimes resented by other Central Africans for their 
affluence and thus are singled out for harassment, such as 
police shakedowns. There are few Muslims in senior government 
posts . 

There are about 80 ethnic groups in the C.A.R., and President 
Kolingba has stressed the desirability of an ethnic balance in 
his Cabinet. In practice, however, preference for high 
government and military positions has been given to members of 
his Yakoma ethnic group, which forms less than 5 percent of the 
population. During a special May session of the RDC, the 
Government came under public criticism for its ethnic 
imbalance. President Kolingba responded by replacing some 
Yakoma in his Cabinet but not really addressing the imbalance. 

Although the Constitution affirms the equality of all citizens, 
women are not in fact treated as equal to men economically, 
socially, or politically. Although progress has been made in 
narrowing gender differences, gaps exist not only between men 
and women, but between urban and rural women as well. Between 
60 and 70 percent of urban women go to primary school while 
only 10 to 20 percent of their rural counterparts do so. At 
the primary level, females and males have ec[ual access to 
education, but a majority of females drops out at ages 14 and 
15 due to social pressure to marry and bear children. At the 
university oi; Bangui, the sole university in the C.A.R., only 
20 percent of the students are female. 

Traditional patterns persist to a considerable degree. In most 
rural areas, where subsistence farming is the chief livelihood, 
women continue traditional child-raising and heavy farming 
tasks while men frequently seek paid physical day labor or 
await hard-to-find salaried work. Some women work in commerce 
as market vendors. 

There is no precise data on the percentage of women in the wage 
labor force, but in cities many educated women find work 
outside the traditional patterns. Some hold clerical 
positions, and a small but growing number are establishing 
private businesses or moving into the upper ranks of the 
Government. In 1990 women were accepted for training in the 
gendarmerie for the first time; the first of these graduated in 
1991. 

Polygamy is legal, although fewer women accept the practice 
than in the past. A prospective husband must indicate at the 
time of the marriage contract whether he intends to take 
further wives. 



68 



CENTRAL AFRICAN REPUBLIC 

Violence against women, including wife beating, occurs, but it 
is difficult to gauge the extent of the problem, which is 
seldom officially reported. Some women believe that spousal 
abuse of women has diminished from past levels. The Ministry 
of Justice hears few cases of spouse abuse, although the issue 
does come up during divorce trials or in civil suits for 
damages. Cases of domestic violence occasionally appear in the 
press. Some women reportedly tolerate abuse in order to retain 
a measure of financial security for themselves and their 
children. Neither the Government nor the women's division of 
the RDC publicly addressed this issue in 1991. 

The Penal Code forbids blows or injuries to children under the 
age of 15. Current interpretation of the Code includes 
prohibition of female genital mutilation. Nonetheless, the 
force of tradition tolerates this practice in rural areas and, 
to a lesser degree, in Bangui, although many urban dwellers 
consider it an outdated custom. However, it was praised in a 
press article on the national mothers' day as a national 
tradition. 

Section 6 Worker Rights 

a. The Right of Association 

During 1991 the Government continued to harass or inhibit labor 
activity by banning some organizations and by arresting labor 
leaders . 

A 1988 law, which entered into force on May 1, 1989, grants all 
workers the right of association. Since then teachers, civil 
servants, postal workers, and employees in the few large 
factories and businesses in Bangui have organized. 
Approximately 60 locals exist in Bangui alone. The Ministry of 
the Interior has also recognized 10 sectoral unions in Bangui 
and 24 provincial unions, all of which belong to the main labor 
federation, the Labor Union of Central African Workers (USTC) . 
Recognition requirements are pro forma. For most of 1991, 
there was only one main labor federation, the USTC, plus six 
public sector federations. 

The 1988 law provides for the right to strike but only after 
rigorous requirements are met, that is, after a government 
mediator and an arbitration council both fail to achieve 
agreement between labor and management . There were a number of 
strikes in 1991 which did not follow these requirements, 
including a general strike protesting salary arrears, 
mistreatment of unionists, and lack of political reform. The 
general strike, which began in May, led to a July 3 
confrontation between strikers and security forces at union 
headq^aarters . The military occupied the headquarters and 
arrested more than 30 unionists. The following day, security 
agents arrested three union leaders leaving the July 4 
reception at the U.S. Ambassador's residence. 

Starting in June, the Government made efforts to dissolve the 
six public sector labor federations for striking illegally for 
political reasons. When the courts refused to dissolve the 
federations. President Kolingba removed the magistrates 
involved. On July 6, Prime Minister Edouard Franck announced 
the suspension of the six public sector union federations until 
October 31 and ordered the private sector to return to work. 
Although these actions ended the general strike and the public 
sector unions were forced to hold meetings clandestinely, most 
teachers and public health workers remained on strike through 



69 



CENTRAL AFRICAN REPUBLIC 

the end of the year. The Government lifted the public sector 
union suspension on November 1. 

Most detained unionists were eventually released, but several 
received prison terms. USTC Secretary General Theophile 
Sonny-Cole was sentenced to a year in prison without actually 
being arrested or appearing in court. While he remained at 
liberty at the end of the year, the Government appeared to 
retain the option of imposing the sentence at any time. The 
other unionists who were sentenced received either suspended 
terms or were freed under the amnesty which President Kolingba 
declared on September 1 to mark his 10th year in power. 

Toward the end of the year, the Government announced that it 
supported the principle of "multiunionism" as a logical 
corollary to multipartyism. By year's end, three smaller 
federations had been formed, but none initially demonstrated 
any provincial or sectoral union support. Credible evidence 
suggested that one, the Confederation of Central African Trade 
Unions (CSTC) , was mostly government funded; another, the 
National Confederation of Central African Workers (CNTC) is the 
resurrected version of a previously government-controlled 
federation, headed by a retired union rival of Sonny-Cole's. 

The 1988 law allows unions to affiliate with international 
labor organizations. Both the USTC and the CNTC maintain 
international labor contacts. 

In April 1989, the U.S. Government announced the suspension of 
tariff preferences accorded the C.A.R. because of the 
Government's failure to respect worker rights. The C.A.R. 
formally requested reinstatement in September 1989, and its 
request was granted in February 1991, before the most recent 
round of arrests and the suspension of labor federations. 

b. The Right to Organize and Bargain Collectively 

The C.A.R. has little industry or large-scale agriculture. The 
1988 union law, which applies throughout the country, accords 
trade unions full legal status, including the right to own 
property and to sue in court. However, it does not 
specifically state that trade unions may engage in collective 
bargaining. Mechanisms for collective bargaining contained in 
the 1961 Labor Code have in the past been used occasionally in 
the private sector during the periods in which union activity 
was not banned. Collective bargaining, though failing to bring 
a lasting settlement, took place in 1991 in both the private 
and public sectors. Employers are expressly forbidden from 
discriminating against workers on the basis of union membership 
or union activity, and infractions can result in the assessment 
of legal damage. Several of the USTC unions claim, however, 
that the Government has itself discriminated against their 
members, notably through the arbitrary reassignment of teachers 
and civil servants to provincial posts. There are no export 
processing zones in the C.A.R. 

c. Prohibition of Forced or Compulsory Labor 

Forced labor is specifically prohibited by the 1961 Labor Code, 
and no reports were made of forced labor in 1991. 

d. Minimum Age for Employment of Children 

Employment of children under 14 years of age is forbidden by 
law, but this provision is only loosely enforced by the 



70 



CENTRAL AFRICAN REPUBLIC 

Ministry of Labor and Civil Service. In practice, the role of 
children in the labor force is generally limited to helping the 
family in traditional subsistence farming or retailing. 

e. Acceptable Conditions of Work 

Minimum wages are established by the Government, euid a social 
security system exists for private industry. The lowest 
minimum wage assures a family the basic necessities but is 
barely adequate to maintain a decent standard of living. In 
July the Government announced that it would raise the minimvun 
monthly industrial wage by 40 percent, and the minimum 
agricultural wage by less than 25 percent a day. These 
increases had not yet taken effect by year's end. Much labor 
is performed outside the wage and social security system, 
especially by self-employed farmers in the large subsistence 
agricultural sector. The law sets maximum working hours for 
government employees and most people in the private sector at 
40 hours per week. Domestic employees may work up to 55 hours 
per week. There are also general laws on health and safety 
standards in the workplace, but they are neither precisely 
defined nor actively enforced by the Ministry of Labor and 
Civil Service. 



71 



CHAD 



Chad is a republic with a transitional government headed by 
President Idriss Deby. President Deby and the Patriotic 
Salvation Movement (MPS) took power from Hissein Habre on 
December 1, 1990. He immediately declared human rights and 
democratization to be the primary objectives of the new 
Government. On March 1, the National Charter was announced, 
setting up a 30-month transition period of government, with 
most power concentrated in the hands of President Deby. The 
Charter abolished the 1989 constitution. On October 4, the 
Government introduced the Charter on Political Parties. By the 
end of the year no parties, apart from the MPS, had been 
authorized, but several parties had formally applied for 
official authorization, and others were in the process of being 
established. 

The Deby Government operates a large security and military 
apparatus that includes an army of about 50,000 personnel 
(Republican Guard, army, gendarmerie, and air force), the 
National Police, and the Center for Research and Coordination 
of Information (CRCR). The size of the security forces posed a 
serious drain on Chadian resources in 1991, and the Government 
had difficulty in financially supporting them and in 
maintaining discipline. With French assistance, Chad began to 
reorganize, retrain, and reduce the size of the forces. 
Meanwhile, in 1991 there were numerous reports of human rights 
abuses committed by the military and security forces. Credible 
reports pointed to the Military Intelligence Branch (B-2) as 
the major offender. An alleged coup attempt on October 13 led 
to interethnic killing, led by Zaghawa elements of the Chadian 
military loyal to President Deby. Interior Minister Maldoum, a 
Hadjerai, was removed from office for supposed complicity with 
the plot. 

Chad is one of the poorest countries in the world, with an 
estimated per capita income of $205 per annum. The literacy 
rate is estimated at 25 percent, and 80 percent of the 
population is engaged in subsistence agriculture, fishing, and 
livestock raising. Cotton is Chad's most important export. 
The Government relies heavily on external financial support, 
especially from France, to meet recurring budgetary costs and 
virtually 100 percent of government investment. Habre 
exacerbated the financial crisis by fleeing the country with 
much of its liquid assets. In 1991 emergency food aid was 
necessary due to drought. 

In 1991, with strong public backing from President Deby, the 
human rights situation in Chad improved somewhat, including the 
right of workers to organize. There were still restrictions on 
freedom of the press and speech, although the situation had 
improved over 1990. The Government also permitted the 
establishment of several organizations devoted solely to human 
rights. However, like previous governments, the Deby 
Government, with its political and military base primarily in a 
regional ethnic grouping, faced serious problems in 
establishing a national political consensus. It nevertheless 
made modest progress in 1991 in identifying the aspirations and 
priorities of the people, in permitting the formation of 
political parties late in the year, and in setting a timetable 
for national consultations in the form of a national conference 
for May 1992. On December 24, President Deby issued a decree 
forming an 80-person, ethnically and politically diverse, 
preparatory commission to organize the National Conference, 
which would be sovereign. At the same time, a number of 
serious human rights abuses occurred in 1991, notably 



72 



CHAD 

extrajudicial killings (mainly due to factions settling old 
scores and interethnic killing following the alleged coup 
attempt on October 13), the use of arbitrary arrest and 
detention, the denial of fair public trials, and the use of 
force to prevent assembly and association of people outside the 
MPS. 

RESPECT FOR HUMAN RIGHTS 

Section 1 Respect for the Integrity of the Person, Including 
Freedom from: 

a. Political and Other Extrajudicial Killing 

Credible reports indicated that the Habre regime executed more 
than 300 political prisoners shortly before it collapsed. 
During the first months of the Deby regime, there were many 
credible reports of further extrajudicial killings, most of 
which involved the settling of scores between the new and old 
factions. Most of these killings had ceased by March, although 
reports of killings continued throughout 1991, usually 
attributed to armed bands currently or formerly associated with 
the Chadian army. Armed groups of loyalists to former 
President Habre survived by pillaging in the eastern part of 
the country. Some members of the Zaghawa, who accompanied the 
Deby forces, turned to banditry as did other groups of 
soldiers. The Government condemned these actions but was often 
several months behind in meeting its military payroll, and its 
ability to control offending units, particularly in provincial 
areas, remained limited. The Government established 
courts-martial in March to try military offenders, but these 
met with limited success. One early trial was disrupted by 
armed men who attempted to rescue the defendants . Subsequent 
sessions were heavily guarded by troops with heavy weapons. 
However, these events had an intimidating impact on the conduct 
of later trials. 

In the first days of the Deby administration, there were 
assassination attempts on the lives of several ministers. An 
army officer, Gabaroum Demtita, was arrested, and reliable 
reports indicate he was executed in late December 1990 by 
members of the security services. 

On October 13, government forces reacted with excessive force 
to suppress an alleged coup attempt by Minister of the Interior 
Maldoum and Hadjerai army officers. The Government failed to 
control its troops in subsequent days. Hadjerai military and 
civilians were particularly targeted by uncontrolled Zaghawa 
armed elements. Reliable reports indicate that approximately 
200 persons were killed in N'Djamena by Zaghawa soldiers and 
civilians during the week of October 13. 

b. Disappearance 

There were no known allegations in 1991 of politically 
motivated disappearances. There were allegations of political 
prisoners being held incommunicado, though fewer than under the 
Habre regime. 

c. Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading 
Treatment or Punishment 

In 1991 there were persistent uncorroborated reports that the 
B-2 Military Intelligence and the MPS Security Branch engaged 
in torture which included: whippings, beatings, and forced 



73 



CHAD 

ingestion of water and then dropping the detainee to the 
floor. These units also reportedly denied medical treatment to 
torture victims. The number of allegations increased in the 
latter part of 1991, indicating that these practices were not 
simply a function of the chaos of the first months of the Deby 
regime. Four men were publicly executed by firing squad in 
October after being convicted under the special court-martial 
authority, one reportedly for attempted theft. The executions 
were carried out in a manner that prolonged the suffering of 
the men. While the Government officially condemns the use of 
torture and the mistreatment of prisoners, it has not commented 
on these reports nor, as far as is known, conducted any 
investigation of such incidents. 

Prison conditions under the Deby regime continued to be harsh. 
They are characterized by overcrowding, poor sanitation, lack 
of medical facilities, inadequate food, mixing of male and 
female prisoners, and detention of children. Deaths from 
malnutrition in common cells were frequent, with the bodies not 
being removed rapidly after death. Prisoners are dependent on 
their families for food, medicines, and other necessities. 
Nonpolitical prisoners are allowed daily access by visitors. 
Some reports indicated that political and security prisoners 
were detained incommunicado. Military prisoners are detained 
in separate facilities. 

d. Arbitrary Arrest, Detention, or Exile 

The Deby Government abolished the 1989 constitution which 
provided for certain safeguards for the citizen against 
arbitrary arrest and gave detainees specific rights, such as 
the right to counsel and to be presented with charges. The 
Chadian penal code, which is still considered in effect, 
specifies these rights, but its provisions, like those of the 
1989 constitution, are not enforced. In practice, most 
individual military or security organizations were able to 
arrest or detain citizens without legal warrant, without 
presenting charges, or without referring a detainee to an early 
trial. 

In June a group of 44 military officers and noncommissioned 
officers (NCO's), all of southern Chadian origin, were arrested 
for circulating a signed petition that complained of unjust 
treatment. They were detained at the gendarmerie and the 
former presidential compound. The officers were held for 
several days and the NCO's for up to 11 days before being 
released without charge. Other allegations surfaced in the 
press that military and civilians were detained without 
charge. In contrast, there were numerous allegations that 
military and civilians of the Zaghawa ethnic group who were 
guilty of crimes were not incarcerated (see Section I.e.). 

Due to the secrecy of the Government, the number of political 
detainees held in 1991, if any, was not known. High-level 
Chadian officials contend there were no political detainees or 
prisoners held in 1991. 

The Deby Government actively engaged in a program for the 
return of Chadian exiles. There were no reports of returning 
exiles being detained or mistreated. The Government had some 
difficulty absorbing several thousand Chadian citizens who were 
involuntarily returned from Libya with little or no preparation 
or notice during the year. Significant numbers of Chadians 
have chosen not to return to Chad and remain in Europe, Niger, 
Libya, and other African countries. 



74 

CHAD 

e. Denial of Fair Trial 

Chad's judicial system is at best rudimentary, in part due to 
decades of civil war creating serious staffing and training 
deficiencies. Three forms of courts existed in Chad in 1991: 
the regular judiciary, a traditional system presided over by 
village chiefs and sheiks, and the newly established special 
military court to try soldiers and civilians accused of 
criminal activity (see Section l.a.). There are legal 
safeguards built into the court-martial system, including the 
right to be represented by an attorney and the right of appeal 
to a higher tribunal within the same system. In September a 
seven-person Special Court of Justice was established to look 
into the issue of funds which disappeared at the time of 
Habre's fall. 

The highest court in Chad is the Appellate Court in N'Djamena. 
It reviews the decisions of lower courts and judges all cases 
calling for more than a 2-year penalty. Due to the shortage of 
judges in the provinces, legal matters were often presided over 
by either traditional or other governinent authorities, 
frequently military commanders. The traditional or customary 
system of justice, common in the rural areas and used for civil 
matters, is not codified, but its judgments are generally 
respected by the population. Decisions rendered by a 
traditional court may be appealed to the regular civilian 
courts . 

There were no efforts at systemic overhaul of the judiciary in 
1991, although the MPS Conference in March cited judicial 
reform as a national goal, and President Deby indicated that 
judicial reform would be addressed in the national conference 
in 1992. Meanwhile, the judiciary remained subordinate to 
executive authority. The Government did make an effort to 
staff rural courts which had not functioned under the previous 
government . 

In 1991 there were credible reports that the civilian court 
system and the new court-martial system were unable to bring 
members of the Zaghawa ethnic group to trial. In August 
Zaghawa soldiers attacked the first court-martial session in an 
attempt to free Zaghawa prisoners. On October 13, Zaghawa 
soldiers attacked the prison in order to free Zaghawa 
prisoners. There are reports that citizens preferring charges 
against Zaghawa were threatened by other Zaghawa in the 
military. Government actions to prevent these abuses have not 
been fully effective. 

f. Arbitrary Interference with Privacy, Family, Home, or 
Correspondence 

Under the penal code, homes may be searched only during 
daylight hours and only under the authority of a warrant. In 
practice, security personnel of various agencies searched homes 
and arrested occupants without a warrant from judicial 
authorities. In early 1991, several deaths occurred as a 
result of searches of homes by the army. There were numerous 
reports that thievery by soldiers occurred frequently during 
house and street searches. 

Membership in the Patriotic Salvation Movement (MPS) is not 
required for employment or appointment to high position. 
However, MPS membership reportedly has been solicited through 
coercive means in the rural areas. 



75 



CHAD 

It was widely assumed that surveillance of persons, monitoring 
of telephones, and checking of domestic and international 
correspondence occurred in 1991. 

Section 2 Respect for Civil Liberties, Including: 

a. Freedom of Speech and Press 

President Deby lifted many restrictions on freedom of speech 
and press. Individual views were expressed openly, and there 
was no evidence of government interference with or restriction 
on small private meetings (see Section 2.b.). The private 
press developed rapidly after the change in government . Five 
private newspapers were published in 1991, sold openly, and 
often carried stories highly critical of the Government. 

Chadian television, radio, and the Chadian Press Agency 
continued to be government controlled in 1991. In state-owned 
media journalists were allowed greater latitude in publishing 
and broadcasting than during the Habre regime. However, as the 
year progressed, the official media became increasingly 
restrained in the choice of topics and quoted sources, 
apparently under government pressure, and considerably less 
outspoken than the private press. 

Low-ranking soldiers attacked journalists on several occasions, 
and MPS officials intimidated newspaper staff. Additionally, 
there were disturbing incidents aimed at intimidating the 
press. In mid-March soldiers burst into Radio Chad studios and 
roughed up journalists. Reporters went on strike until the 
Government promised such incidents would not happen again. On 
July 7, the Government warned the press about unspecified 
"excesses". Soldiers beat three Tele-Chad journalists on July 
28. In early November, offices of the independent weekly 
Contact were vandalized and the texts of articles were stolen. 
In late December, the publisher of N'Djamena Hebdo was detained 
briefly by armed men and the newspaper offices were searched. 
Members of the private press have expressed the view that they 
are under frequent personal or electronic surveillance. 

Foreign publications were available in Chad, and there were no 
reports that foreign publications were censored or withdrawn 
from circulation during 1991. 

The academic system is state supported but was free of 
government control of curriculum or course content. Class 
discussions of academic topics were unrestricted and 
uninhibited, but political commentary in and out of class 
tended to be restrained, unless discussions took place among 
close, trusted friends. Fear of government informants is 
pervasive at institutes of higher education. 

b. Freedom of Peaceful Assembly and Association 

These freedoms were tightly circumscribed in 1991. The 
Government prohibited assemblies or meetings with political 
objectives and, until October, declared any political activity 
and political party organizations outside the MPS illegal. A 
planned antigovernment demonstration on March 26 failed to 
materialize after the Government declared it illegal. The 
Government used force to disperse striking students at the 
University of Chad in February, resulting in the death of at 
least one person and several wounded. The students were 
calling for the removal of two administrators, reinstatement of 
suspended students, payment of stipends, and better conditions. 



76 



CHAD 

In 1991 the Government required organizations to have official 
authorization to function prior to beginning operations. While 
it authorized three private human rights organizations and two 
union federations to organize, it had not given permission by 
year's end to many cultural and social organizations with no 
stated political objective. 

c. Freedom of Religion 

Chad is officially and in practice a secular state in which 
Islam, Christianity, and other religions are practiced without 
official constraint. Both Islamic and Christian holidays are 
given official status. More than 50 percent of Chad's 
population is Muslim, and Chad is a member of the Islamic 
Conference. Christian and other missionaries may enter the 
country to proselytize and perform public assistance work. 

Christian missionaries are most active in the south. In 1991 
there were no reports of harassment for religious views, and 
religious publications are disseminated without government 
restriction. 

d. Freedom of Movement Within the Country, Foreign 
Travel, Emigration, and Repatriation 

Chadians enjoy freedom to move around the country, except 
within military zones. Clearance by internal security services 
is required for international travel, but this requirement did 
not appear to impede movement. Chadians are free to emigrate 
and have the right to return. 

From 1979 to 1982, as many as 185,000 Chadians fled drought and 
civil war to seek refuge in neighboring countries. Most of 
those who left during this time have since returned to Chad and 
have been resettled with the help of government organizations. 
Several thousand returned in 1991. About 24,000 still remain 
outside Chad, mainly in Sudan. 

In addition to this older population of refugees, Chad 
experienced a new outflow of about 10,000 persons following the 
December 1990 overthrow of the Habre government by Idriss 
Deby. Most of these recent refugees returned to Chad in early 
1991. About 3,000 remain in Niger, Nigeria, and Cameroon. 
There were no reports in 1991 of mistreatment of returnees. 

Section 3 Respect for Political Rights: The Right of Citizens 
to Change Their Government 

In 1991 Chadians lacked the right to change their government by 
democratic means. President Deby governs through a Council of 
Ministers and the Prime Minister. The Provisional Council of 
the Republic, a consultative body comprised of regional 
representatives and political notables appointed by the 
President, serves some of the functions of a legislature but 
without authority to initiate or approve laws. 

Upon coming to power, Deby's provisional Government, through 
the National Charter, abolished the 1989 constitution and the 
national assembly but promised to install a multiparty system. 
A Charter of Political Parties was adopted on October 4, and a 
national conference is scheduled for May 1992, one of its 
objectives being to draft a new constitution. Municipal, 
legislative, and presidential elections were promised for 1993. 



77 



CHAD 

Section 4 Governmental Attitude Regarding International and 

Nongovernmental Investigation of Alleged Violations 
of Human Rights 

In a marked departure from Habre's regime, the Deby Government 
allowed investigation into human rights abuses, particularly 
those committed by Habre. In the first months of 1991 
prominent press coverage, both foreign and domestic, 
documented abuses. Three Chadian human rights organizations 
were founded and authorized to operate in 1991. The Chadian 
League of Human Rights (LTDH) was established first, and it 
actively promoted human rights issues. The Convention for the 
Defense of Human and Citizens Rights (CODHOC) and the Chadian 
Association for the Promotion and Defense of Human Rights 
(ATCPH) were founded toward the end of the year to promote 
human rights. All three operated without government 
interference. 

The Government permitted Amnesty International and a French 
judge to conduct investigations in 1991. 

Section 5 Discrimination Based on Race, Sex, Religion, 
Language, or Social Status 

There are approximately 200 ethnic groups in Chad. They are 
roughly divided among Saharan and Arab Muslims in the northern, 
central, and eastern regions, and Bantu people, who practice 
Christianity or animist religions, in the south. Sustained 
civil war since 1965, revolving around ethnic disputes, has 
badly fractured any sense of national identity. Ethnic 
divisions continued to be a major problem in Chad despite 
Deby's efforts to forge national reconciliation and unity. 
While regional and ethnic representation in government was 
diverse, real power remained in the hands of a few minority 
ethnic groups from northern and eastern Chad, principally the 
Zaghawa, Bideyat, and Gorane. 

Officially the Deby Government opposes discrimination, and 
Chadian women have full political eq\iality and protection under 
the law. However, culture and tradition among many of Chad's 
various ethnic groups perpetuate the de facto subordinate 
status of women. Much of the agricultural work on subsistence 
farms is done by women. Neither traditional law nor the penal 
code specifically protects women's rights. The literacy rate 
for women is significantly lower than for men, and a 1991 
United Nations Development Program study stated that on average 
females receive one-third of the education of males. A few 
women are found in higher positions in the Government as well 
as in commerce, the professions, and the military. The 
Ministry of Public Health and Social Affairs actively promoted 
women's rights, sponsoring a national women's week and seminars 
on women's issues. A private women's advocacy group was 
authorized and was active in promoting women's rights. 

Household violence directed against women, including wife 
beating, is believed to be common, and women have only limited 
legal recourse against abusive spouses. Female genital 
mutilation (circumcision) is widespread in Chad. This practice 
is deeply rooted in tradition, both in the north and the south, 
and strongly advocated by many Chadians, including women, 
despite its severe consequences for women's physical and mental 
health. The Deby Government took no action to prohibit the 
practice. 



78 



CHAD 
Section 6 Worker Rights 

a. The Right of Association 

Given the level of economic development, Chad's labor movement 
is still in its infancy. Over 80 percent of all Chadian 
workers are involved in subsistence agriculture, animal 
husbandry, or fishing. Involvement in labor organizations 
centers mostly on the public sector and the small, private 
commercial sector. 

The National Charter of March 1991 specifically recognized the 
right of labor to organize, and workers are free to join or 
form unions of their own choosing. However, government 
authorization is required before unions can commence 
operations. There was no indication in 1991 that the 
Governinent interfered wih the right of workers to organize, 
although it refused authorization to the National Federation of 
Chadian Trade Unions (UNST) to function under the name of UNST 
because of its association with the Habre regime. It granted 
approval once the name was altered to the Federation of Chadian 
Unions (UST) . A second federation of unions, the Federation of 
Chadian Workers (CLTT), was formed in 1991. Both new 
federations are independent of the Government. Both 
federations held congresses in 1991 and freely affiliate with 
international and regional labor organizations. 

The Deby Government considers the current Labor Code still in 
effect. It permits the right to strike but mandates that 
certain steps are to be taken to resolve disagreements prior to 
striking. The 1989 constitution implicitly repealed the 1975 
ordinance which suspended the right to strike. However, 
strikes did not take place under the Habre government. A new 
labor code is nearing completion, according to government and 
union officials. 

In 1991 five strikes were staged without evidence of government 
interference or restrictions. Hospital workers, airport 
employees, government-employed journalists, and textile workers 
in southern Chad went on strike during the year over wage and 
benefit issues and for improved working conditions. In 
December primary and secondary teachers, with sympathy support 
from higher education institutions, led a strike for better pay 
and benefits. In each of these instances, the Government 
negotiated mutually satisfactory resolutions to the strikes. 
In April, however, when the former UNST called for a general 
strike to protest the Government's refusal to allow it to 
function under the name UNST, the Government deemed the strike 
illegal because it was called by an unauthorized organization, 
and the strike failed to take place. 

b. The Right to Organize and Bargain Collectively 

The National Charter specifically recognizes the right of trade 
unions to organize and bargain collectively, and in 1991 there 
was no abridgement of this right as there had been under the 
previous government. However, the International Labor 
Organization's (ILO) Committee of Experts in 1991 again asked 
the Government to amend a section of the Labor Code which 
empowers the State to intervene in the collective bargaining 
process. In practice, few collective agreements exist given 
the small size of the private sector. Chadian law does not 
specifically prohibit antiunion discrimination, but this was 
not an issue in 1991. There are no export processing zones in 
Chad. 



79 



CHAD 

c. Prohibition of Forced or Compulsory Labor 

While there is no specific prohibition on forced or compulsory 
labor in Chadian law, such labor did not occur in 1991. 

d. Minimum Age for Employment of Children 

The minimum age for employment of children is 14 in the wage 
sector, but there is only limited enforcement of this law by 
the Ministry of Civil Service and Labor. In practice, 
employment of children was almost nonexistent, except on family 
farms . 

Approximately 600 minors, between the ages of 12 and 17, were 
reported to be in the army. One objective of the Deby 
Government was to reorganize the army and release minors from 
the ranks. This process was under way at year's end with the 
Government coordinating closely with the United Nations 
International Children's Fund to provide reintegration of the 
children into civilian society. 

e. Acceptable Conditions of Work 

A minimum wage scale established in 1978 remained valid under 
the Deby Government. This nationwide minimum wage scale 
applied to all categories of work, but higher grade levels 
existed for specialized functions. Minimum wages were 
insufficient to support subsistence, much less an acceptable 
standard of living. Most workers relied on second jobs, 
subsistence agriculture, or assistance from the extended family. 

Most nonagricultural work is limited by law to 48 hours per 
week with overtime paid for supplementary hours. Agricultural 
workers were statutorily limited to 2,400 work hours per year. 
All workers are entitled to 24 consecutive hours of rest per 
week. In practice, issues involving working conditions were 
still in their infancy. Some occupational health and safety 
standards exist for the work environment, but enforcement by 
the Ministry of Civil Service and Labor is rare. 



80 



COMOROS 



Located in the Mozambique Channel between East Africa and 
Madagascar, the Federal and Islamic Republic of the Comoros 
comprises three islands and claims a fourth, Mayotte, which is 
governed by France. Until his assassination in November 1989, 
President Abdallah, backed by the presidential guard, presided 
over a de facto one-party state. Following his assassination, 
some 25 European mercenaries who had served as officers in the 
presidential guard briefly became the ruling authority until 
French troops arrived to stabilize the situation. 

Early in 1990, opposition politicians returned from exile, and a 
wide spectrum of political leaders and eight political parties 
contested presidential elections in two stages. The acting 
President, Said Mohamed Djohar, emerged the winner in the second 
round. His defeated opponent, Mohamed Taki, refused to accept 
the results and departed the country for several months. Though 
allegations of fraud and tampering with ballot boxes were made 
by opposing political parties, most outside observers, including 
representatives from the Organization of African Unity, 
concluded that these instances did not decisively alter the 
results. Following his inauguration on March 20, 1991, the new 
President vowed to promote full democracy and became leader of a 
coalition of five parties, naming some former opposition figures 
to ministerial positions. 

French military advisors assisted the new Government in 
restructuring and reducing the regular military and police 
forces. In 1991 the security forces came under effective 
civilian control. 

Agriculture dominates the economy, but the Comoros is running 
out of arable land, and soil erosion on the steep volcanic 
slopes is exacerbating the problem. Revenues from the main 
crops — vanilla, essence of ylang-ylang, and cloves — continued to 
fall. Comoros is part of the French Franc Monetary Zone and 
depends heavily on France for budgetary support and technical 
and security assistance. 

The human rights situation has improved significantly since 
1989, but progress slowed in 1991 with the postponement of both 
legislative elections and revision of the Constitution to 
establish firmly a multiparty system. This slower pace of 
change was due in part to cabinet changes, the distraction of 
natural disasters (volcanic activity), and an attempted coup 
d'etat in August involving Supreme Court figures. Efforts to 
institutionalize democratic practices and the protection of 
human rights continue to be hampered by the lack of internal 
security arrangements and poor economic conditions. 

RESPECT FOR HUMAN RIGHTS 

Section 1 Respect for the Integrity of the Person, Including 
Freedom from: 

a. Political and Other Extrajudicial Killing 

There were no confirmed reports of such killing in 1991. 
However, the case of Said Mlindre, a member of presidential 
candidate Taki's political party who died in 1990 while in 
government custody, continued to be raised by the political 
opposition. The Government maintains he died of natural causes, 
while his family alleges torture and poisoning. A doctor who 
attended Mlindre on the night of his death testified he was 
unable to determine whether the death was natural or inflicted. 



81 



COMOROS 

He said he lacked the means to perform an autopsy, and the 
feunily insisted on immediate burial. No new information was 
developed in 1991. 

b. Disappearance 

There were no reports of disappearance. 

c. Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading 
Treatment or Punishment 

There were no substantiated reports of torture or other cruel, 
inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment in 1991. However, 
various opposition newspapers and human rights groups maintained 
that Said Mlindre and others detained in August 1990, including 
a journalist, had been tortured. 

d. Arbitrary Arrest, Detention, or Exile 

In 1991 there were no known cases of arbitrary arrest or 
detention, although the circumstances surrounding the detention 
of Said Mlindre and other Taki supporters had not been fully 
clarified. After Djohar's election in March 1990, there were 
clashes in early April between security forces and opposition 
supporters . Eighteen of those involved were arrested and held 
without charge. Fourteen were released in September and the 
remaining four in October without coming to trial. The law 
provides for a detained person to be charged within 48 hours, 
but this procedure was not followed in the case of Mlindre and 
the others arrested in 1990. 

Nximerous opposition political figures, who had been abroad in 
exile during the Abdallah period, returned to the Comoros in 
early 1990 to participate in the presidential elections. 
Mohammed Taki, who remained in self-imposed exile for most of 
1991, returned to the Comoros at the end of the year. 

e. Denial of Fair Public Trial 

The 1978 Constitution provides for the equality of all citizens 
before the law and the right of all accused to defense counsel. 
The Comorian legal system applies Islamic law and an inherited 
French legal code. Most disputes are settled by village elders 
or by a civilian court of first instance. In regular civil and 
criminal cases, the judiciary is largely independent, and trials 
are public. However, in national security cases observed since 
1990, suspects were never brought to trial. Most were 
subsequently freed, but only after a period of detention of up 
to 1 year . The Supreme Court has the power to review the 
decisions of lower courts, including the Court of Appeals. 
National security cases — involving attempts to destabilize the 
country or overthrow the Government by violent means — are 
handled in the regular court system. 

In 1991 the only important national security case involved 
members and supporters of the Supreme Court who attempted a 
"legal coup d'etat" by declaring the President unfit for 
office. They invoked articles of the Constitution which would 
install the President of the Supreme Court as head of state. 
The attempt failed, and six persons, including Supreme Court 
President Ahmed Talidi, were placed under house arrest and 
awaited trial at year's end. The President has stated that he 
is willing to drop their case; however, the former head of the 
Supreme Court still insists he should be head of state. 



82 



COMOROS 

f . Arbitrary Interference with Privacy, Family, Home, or 
Correspondence 

The Constitution provides for the inviolability of home and 
property. There were no known cases of arbitrary interference 
with privacy or correspondence in 1991. 

Section 2 Respect for Civil Liberties, Including: 

a. Freedom of Speech and Press 

The Constitution provides for freedoms of expression, thought, 
and conscience. In contrast to the experience under the 
Abdallah regime, these freedoms were generally respected during 
1991. Comorians discussd and criticized the Government and its 
leading personalities openly. A wide spectrum of political 
views were aired in roundtable discussions leading up to the 
1992 presidential elections. Radio broadcasts from Mayotte and 
two French television stations are received on parts of the 
islands without interference. Satellite antennas are popular, 
and amateur radio licenses are easily obtained. 

The print media continue to enjoy a significant degree of 
openness, and several small independent newspapers are now 
published. The semiofficial newspaper, which became a weekly, 
publishes articles critical of some government policies. Lack 
of funds and illiteracy are the biggest obstacles to wider 
publication and distribution of the newspapers. Foreign 
journals and newspapers are available, as are books from 
abroad. The Paris-based Indian Ocean Newsletter and Lettre de 
Comores, which are often highly critical of the Government, 
arrive through the international mail without interference. 

b. Freedom of Peaceful Assembly and Association 

The Constitution provides for freedom of assembly and 
association. Under the late president Abdallah, Comorians were 
circumspect about organizing public political gatherings, and 
political groupings kept a fairly low profile. All of this 
changed in 1990 and 1991 as new political parties were formed, 
old ones were resurrected, and numerous rallies and assemblies 
took place with a minimum of governmental interference. No 
political parties have been banned. At the end of the year, 
there were approximately 18 political parties. 

c. Freedom of Religion 

An overwhelming majority of the population is Sunni Muslim. The 
Constitution holds Islam to be the "wellspring of the principles 
and rules which guide the State and its institutions." The 
State upholds the right of non-Muslims to practice their faith, 
and there are churches for the small Catholic and Protestant 
populations. Christian missions work in local hospitals and 
schools, but by local custom they are not allowed to proselytize. 

d. Freedom of Movement Within the Country, Foreign 
Travel, Emigration, and Repatriation 

There are no restrictions on travel within the country or 
abroad, and exit visas are freely granted. 

Section 3 Respect for Political Rights: The Right of Citizens 
to Change Their Government 

Citizens now have the right to change their government through 
peaceful means. No less than 14 political groups were 



83 



COMOROS 

represented in the roundtable discussions held prior to the 1990 
elections; 8 of these fielded candidates for the elections. The 
candidates issued platforms of varying ideological positions, 
which were published in the semiofficial newspaper. In the 
second round runoff. Said Mohamed Djohar defeated Mohamed Taki 
by gaining 55 perc-ent of the votes. 

At the end of 1991, the Government consisted of a coalition of 
five parties. The 1978 Constitution was being rewritten to give 
legal status to a multiparty system and to provide for other 
fundamental rights. After the presidential election in early 
1990, it was envisioned that a new constitution could be quickly 
written and ratified and that legislative elections could take 
place in the fall of that year. However, the dates were 
constantly postponed because of political, procedural, and 
economic problems. Some parties insisted that the elections 
should take place before the referendum on the constitution. 
Further, the August 1991 coup attempt set back the political 
reform timetable because of the prominence of the people and the 
institution involved and the lack of established procedures to 
guide the process (see Section i.e.). Legislative elections 
must take place before March of 1992 as the legislators' terms 
expire in that month. 

Traditional social, religious, and economic institutions also 
importantly influence the country's political life. Interisland 
rivalries have been a persistent and growing factor. Village 
notables and Muslim religious leaders tend to dominate local 
politics. 

Section 4 Governmental Attitude Regarding International and 

Nongovernmental Investigation of Alleged Violations 
of Human Rights 

An organization called the Comorian Association for the Rights 
of Man was established in May 1990. It has been active in 
pursuing human rights causes, including the Said Mlindre case, 
with no interference from the Government. This Association has 
exerted pressure on the Government to free those prisoners 
detained for probable political reasons but who have not been 
charged with national security violations — with the exception of 
those Supreme Court members currently under house arrest. The 
Association tends to focus publicly on women's rights and on 
raising the minimum wage. 

Section 5 Discrimination Based on Race, Sex, Religion, 
Language, or Social Status 

The Constitution formally provides for the equality of citizens 
regardless of race, sex, or religion. Nevertheless, within 
Comorian society, men have the dominant role. In theory, women 
have the right to vote and participate in the political process 
as candidates, but tradition has been a powerful force in 
discouraging women from direct participation in politics. 
Change in the status of women is most evident in the major 
towns, where women are finding increasing employment 
opportunities in the small paid labor force and generally 
receiving wages comparable to those of men in similar work, 
However, school enrollments for females are well below those for 
males. In August the first Comorian woman was appointed to a 
high government position: Sittou Raghadat Mohamed was named 
Secretary of State for Population and the Condition of Women. A 
Comorian Women's Federation, formed in late 1989, aims to 
assemble and propose a family bill of rights. Women are not 
required to wear a veil. Property rights do not disfavor women; 
for example, the house the father of the bride traditionally 



50-726 - 92 - 4 



84 



COMOROS 

provided to the couple at the time of their marriage remains her 
property, even in the case of divorce. 

Violence against women, including wife beating, occurs. 
However, medical authorities, the Women's Federation, and the 
police believe that violence against women is rare, partly 
because of the nonviolent nature of Comorian society. The 
Government has not addressed this issue specifically, and there 
are no studies or statistics available to help determine the 
extent of the problem. In principle, a woman can seek 
protection through the courts in the case of violence, but in 
reality the issue would most likely be addressed within the 
extended family or at the village level. Female circumcision is 
not known to be practiced in the Comoros. 

Section 6 Worker Rights 

a. The Right of Association 

The Constitution allows workers to form unions and to strike, 
but these rights only became a reality in 1990 and 1991 with the 
association of some workers into unions. Farming on small land 
holdings, subsistence fishing, and petty commerce make up the 
daily activity of most of the population. Hence, the wage labor 
force is small (less than 2,000 excluding government 
employees). For the first time in 1990, however, groups of 
teachers, civil servants, and dock workers — which in previous 
years formed temporary associations to press their 
demands — formed into unions for purposes of collective action. 

In 1991 there were work stoppages and slowdowns by all three 
groups. The Government did not interfere with these actions, 

but the basic issues of low or late wages remained unsolved 

because of the country's financial and economic problems. 

Unions are free to join in confederations and to associate with 
international bodies, although given the nascent state of union 
development these rights have not yet been exercised. 

b. The Right to Organize and Bargain Collectively 

Laws do not prohibit antiunion discrimination or protect 
collective bargaining, which is still in its infancy in the 
Comoros. Labor legislation, to the extent that it exists, is 
found mainly in the Labor Code, which is not rigidly enforced. 
The Labor Code does not address collective bargaining. The 
private sector sets wages by informal employee/employer 
negotiations. Public workers' wages are set by government 
policy through the Ministries of Finance and Labor. Economic 
rather than political impediments stand in the way of a more 
active role by labor organizations. Unofficial unemployment 
figures exceed 70 percent. There are no export processing zones. 

c. Prohibition of Forced or Compulsory Labor 

Forced or compulsory labor is forbidden by the Constitution and 
not practiced. 

d. Minimum Age for Employment of Children 

The Labor Code defines 15 years as the minimum age for the 
employment of children. The Ministry of Labor is lax about 
enforcing this provision. Child labor is not an issue due to 
the lack of employment opportunities for adolescents and young 
adults. Children generally help with the work of their families 
in the large subsistence farming and fishing sector. 



85 



COMOROS 

e. Acceptable Conditions of Work 

There is a legislated minimum wage, but it is barely adequate to 
cover basic human needs. However, most workers also have access 
to some subsistence agriculture or fishing and receive support 
from the extended family. The hours of work in any one job 
rarely exceed 35 hours per week. The Government periodically 
reminds employers to respect the Labor Code, which guarantees a 
day off per week, plus a month of paid vacation per year, but 
does not set a maximum workweek. Overall, there are very few 
standards set by the Ministry of Labor. As there is virtually 
no manufacturing, little attention has been given to health and 
safety standards in this sector. 



86 



CONGO 



The Congo's political system changed dramatically in 1991 as 
the country ended decades of one-party, Marxist rule and 
installed a transitional government mandated to prepare the way 
for democratic, multiparty elections in 1992. Assuming 
sovereign powers, the National Conference, composed of some 
1,200 delegates from a broad cross-section of institutions, 
organizations, and social groups, met from February 25 to June 
10 to chart a new political course for the country. The 
National Conference permitted the President of the Republic, 
Denis Sassou Nguesso, to remain in office but with only 
ceremonial duties; elected Prime Minister Andre Milongo to 
serve as interim Head of Government; adopted the Fundamental 
Act, including a comprehensive bill of rights, to serve as an 
interim constitution; and elected a 153-member Superior Council 
of the Republic to serve as an interim legislative body. 

Shortly before the Conference, the 12-year-old regime of Sassou 
Nguesso had legalized political parties and had instituted a 
number of other democratic reforms, including freedom of 
speech, press, and assembly. A new constitution will be put up 
for referendum sometime in early 1992. At year's end, some 100 
political parties had begun their campaigns for local, 
legislative, and presidential elections scheduled for the first 
6 months of 1992. 

Formerly, the Congolese military was closely tied to the 
Congolese Workers Party (PCT) under the one-party regime. It 
was responsible along with the State Security Organization 
(DGSE) for internal security and suppressing dissident 
activity. High-ranking military officers held party positions, 
and party-designated "political officers" served at all levels 
of the military. In January these positions were abolished, 
and active membership in any political party became 
incompatible with holding a military commission. Throughout 
the National Conference the military played a neutral, 
apolitical role. It ensured the security of the conference 
hall and the delegates, but did not, as an organization, 
participate in the proceedings. The transition Government 
reorganized the country's security services and abolished the 
military-commanded DGSE, leaving the civilian police with 
responsibility for law enforcement and public order. 

The economy is highly dependent on petroleum earnings. 
Declining oil prices since 1985 have forced the Government to 
seek debt relief and cooperate with international institutions 
in implementing a long-term, austerity readjustment program, 
including a gradual shift toward a free market economy. 
Congo's economic difficulties were a major impetus for 
political and economic reform in 1991. 

The human rights situation improved significantly in 1991. The 
National Conference decisions, if effectively implemented, hold 
the potential for entrenching real democratic reform and the 
enjoyment of a broad array of civil and political liberties. 
However, early in 1992 units of the military seized control of 
parts of Brazzaville and demanded the replacement of Prime 
Minister Milongo, thus threatening the democratic transition. 
After several days of tension, the military returned to its 
barracks, the Prime Minister announced a cabinet reshuffle, and 
the provisional legislature set dates for elections. Human 
rights problems in 1991 included police beatings of detainees 
(a problem which has apparently not diminished during the 
transition period), harsh prison conditions, and documented 
reports of the existence of slavery in remote parts of the 



87 



CONGO 

country. In response to a large influx of people fleeing 
serious unrest in Zaire, the Government deported 10,000 
Zairians, including many who had been resident in the Congo for 
years . 

RESPECT FOR HUMAN RIGHTS 

Section 1 Respect for the Integrity of the Person, Including 
Freedom from: 

a. Political and Other Extrajudicial Killing 

There were no reports of such killings authorized or condoned 
by the transition Government, or by the Congo's military or 
security forces. 

b. Disappearance 

There were no reports of disappearance. 

c. Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading 
Treatment or Punishment 

The new Congolese bill of rights forbids the use of torture, 
and there were no reports of its use by the current 
Government. Justice in the Congo remains somewhat arbitrary: 
shopkeepers still beat marketplace thieves with impunity, and 
the local police reportedly still regularly beat detainees, 
especially those who allegedly resist arrest. 

As the Government has officially acknowledged, prison 
conditions are bad. The prisons are old and were never 
designed for long-term detentions, since under French rule 
convicted felons were sent out of the country. Between 30 to 
100 prisoners are currently kept in one large cell. They sleep 
on the floor and subsist on a single meal per day. There are 
no exercise or educational facilities, and medical care is 
rare. Women prisoners are kept separate from the men. 

d. Arbitrary Arrest, Detention, or Exile 

The new bill of rights forbids arbitrary arrest, detention, or 
exile. There is no evidence that the interim Government has 
engaged in any of these practices. 

The current Code of Penal Procedure requires that a detainee be 
brought before a judge within 3 days and that a detainee must 
be charged or released within 3 months . However , these 
protections are frequently ignored in practice. The time 
between arrest and trial can extend to years, with bail often 
denied arbitrarily. Official indifference and insufficient 
personnel to handle case loads are major factors in 
perpetuating these abuses. 

The Government does not use forced exile as a means of 
political control. All voluntary exiles from the former regime 
have been invited to return. Some members of the previous 
government have gone into self-imposed exile rather than face 
prosecution for past crimes. 

e. Denial of Fair Public Trial 

The court system continues to be modeled on the French system 
and consists, under the new Government, of three levels: local 
courts, courts of appeal, and the Supreme Court. All "special" 



88 



CONGO 

courts have been abolished, as have secret trials. The accused 
has a right to a lawyer of his own choice, with the State 
paying the fees in cases of poverty. 

Judges are required to have a degree in judicial studies and, 
after due service on the bench, may be appointed by Parliament 
to a term on the Supreme Court. It is too early to estimate 
the degree of independence judges will be able to exercise. 

Congo's traditional courts still handle many local disputes, 
especially property cases. They operate in urban as well as 
rural areas. Many domestic disputes are also adjudicated 
within the context of the extended family. 

The present and future Governments are faced with the problem 
of coming to terms with the human rights abuses and economic 
crimes of the past. Several former high officials have already 
been sentenced to long jail terms for embezzlement. 
Prosecutions for human rights violations will probably not take 
place until an elected government is in power. Former 
officials suspected of crimes or civil rights abuses are not 
prevented from traveling abroad. 

f . Arbitrary Interference with Privacy, Family, Home, or 
Correspondence 

Current law requires a warrant for all searches and forbids the 
police to conduct searches during the hours of darkness. The 
Government has publicly announced that the police have limited 
powers and encourages people to insist on their rights. The 
secret police, which was formerly responsible for the 
surveillance of citizens antagonistic to the Government, has 
been disbanded. The new Government outlawed wiretapping and 
the maintenance of security files on citizens who have not been 
accused of violating the law. 

Section 2 Respect for Civil Liberties, Including: 

a. Freedom of Speech and Press 

The new bill of rights provides for complete freedom of 
expression. People on the street talk freely and are often 
quite critical of past and present political figures, something 
that was impossible a year ago. 

There is no longer an official government newspaper. It has 
been replaced by numerous private newspapers operating without 
hindrance. The broadcast media, radio and television, are 
still state owned, although the journalists belong to an 
independent union and are allowed to disagree on the air with 
government positions. To help eliminate the Marxist bias in 
the media, the Government transferred some state reporters 
hired by the old government, who under Congolese law are almost 
impossible to discharge, to the provinces where they would have 
less influence on national politics. There are, in principle, 
no barriers besides economic ones to the establishment of 
private radio and television services. 

b. Freedom of Peaceful Assembly and Association 

The new bill of rights guarantees the freedom to assemble and 
associate without government interference. Those wishing to 
hold public assemblies must inform the Minister of the 
Interior, who reserves the right to forbid assemblies inimical 
to public peace or welfare. In practice, permission was almost 



89 



CONGO 

never denied since the new Government came to power. The right 
of political parties to form was widely exercised. The single 
political party of the former government has been replaced by 
nearly 80 independent parties, which compete freely for members 
and office. 

c. Freedom of Religion 

There is no state religion; the people are free to join any 
church or practice any religion. Denominations not already 
established in the Congo (there were only seven allowed by the 
former government) must complete a rather cumbersome 
registration process. Local missionaries report no hindrance 
either before or after registration. According to the Ministry 
of the Interior, registration is for the sole purpose of 
granting legal status. The current Government is in the 
process of returning church property confiscated by the former 
regime. Church leaders of the seven denominations recognized 
by the former regime were active in the National Conference and 
continue to play a role in the interim Government. 

The Jehovah's Witnesses, prohibited in previous years, are 
again active and held a large public rally in 1991. As far as 
is known, the Government has not restricted the activities of 
this group. 

d. Freedom of Movement Within the Country, Foreign 
Travel, Emigration, and Repatriation 

The new bill of rights grants freedom of movement both inside 
and outside the country, and there are, in practice, no 
restrictions on travel. In contrast to the past, there were no 
reports of arbitrary, politically motivated denials of 
passports by the transition Government. The office formerly 
responsible for controlling movement within the Congo has been 
abolished. 

The Congolese have traditionally been hospitable to refugees, 
allowing them to enter, obtain work, and have access to 
government services on the same basis as Congolese citizens. 
The Government was especially helpful during the September and 
October evacuations from Zaire, setting up refugee processing 
centers for African and European evacuees and providing food, 
shelter, and assistance with onward travel arrangements. The 
large influx of Zairians, however, strained this traditional 
policy, and, declaring the Zairians to be economic migrants, 
the Government forcibly deported about 10,000 Zairians, 
including many who had lived in the Congo for years. 

Section 3 Respect for Political Rights: The Right of Citizens 
to Change Their Government 

Citizens acting through the National Conference forced a 
peaceful change in government in 1991. The Conference 
abolished the old one-party system, set multiparty elections 
for 1992, and established a broadly based transitional 
Government headed by Prime Minister Milongo. If followed to 
completion, this process will result in a functioning democracy 
by the end of 1992, governed by a Prime Minister and a 
bicameral legislative body. Under the future constitution, the 
President of the Republic will almost certainly have more 
responsibility than the ceremonial duties now entrusted to 
President Sassou Nguesso. The proposed constitution has been 
published and awaits the upcoming referendum. 



90 



CONGO 

Section 4 Governmental Attitude Regarding International and 

Nongovernmental Investigation of Alleged Violations 
of Human Rights 

There are several domestic human rights organizations, which 
include the National Committee on Hiaman Rights, headed by Dr. 
Norbert Lamini (see Section 5), the Congolese Human Rights 
League, and a committee of the Congolese Association of Women 
Lawyers. All have criticized aspects of past government human 
rights practices. 

Section 5 Discrimination Based of Race, Sex, Religion, 
Language, or Social Status 

The new bill of rights forbids all discrimination on any basis 
and requires equal pay for equal work. A small group of about 
7,000 Pygmies, who live in the northern forests, are isolated 
from the mainstream of Congolese life, but there is no official 
discrimination against them. However, missionaries report that 
nurses at some government medical centers frequently refuse to 
provide services to Pygmies. Congolese human rights activist 
Dr. Norbert Lamini reported finding "incontrovertible evidence" 
of the practice of traditional, ancestral slavery in parts of 
the Congo, especially the keeping of Pygmy slaves by Bantu 
farmers in the rural north of the country, around the district 
capital of Ouesso. Dr. Lamini also reported evidence of 
Bantu/Bantu slavery in the port city of Pointe Noire. 

There is no officially sanctioned discrimination against women 
in the Congo, except in the area of adultery, which is legal 
for men, but not for women. Despite the lack of legal 
discrimination, there remains a large disparity between the 
salaries of men and women and in educational opportunities. 
According to a 1991 United Nations study, females receive only 
33 percent of the schooling males receive. Moreover, although 
several women have attained high official status, women in 
general often find themselves relegated to a secondary role in 
both urban and rural areas. 

Polygamy is legal and widely practiced, but a woman may, at a 
state-sponsored wedding, bind her future husband, with his 
agreement, to a monogamous marriage. An estimated 80 percent 
of urban women have the opportunity to choose monogamy. In the 
villages the figure is less than 20 percent. There are no 
statistics available concerning the percentage of polygamous or 
monogamous marriages. The husband, father, or other male head 
of family has considerable legal or actual control over the 
activities of female family members. Indeed, on the death of 
the husband, the wife is often lumped together with the 
husband's other moveable property and parceled out to the 
relatives. The husband's power is often moderated by the 
influence of the extended family. 

Anecdotal evidence suggests that violence against women, 
especially wife beating, is not uncommon, but there are no 
statistics available. Family violence against women is 
generally handled in the context of the extended family rather 
than in the formal judicial system. Female circumcision is not 
practiced among the Congolese. The new Government has not 
addressed the issue of violence against women. 



91 



CONGO 
Section 6 Worker Rights 

a. The Right of Association 

The Labor Code affirms the right of workers to associate 
freely, and there, are no restrictions on the formation of trade 
unions. The right to join a union is also protected under 
Article 15 of the new Bill of Rights. The former single 
confederation, the Congolese Trade Union Confederation (CSC), 
has lost its official status but is still the only umbrella 
orgcinization in the country. The checkoff system which gave 
the CSC much of its power was abolished in June by Decree 
91-672 of the interim Government. After the CSC lost its 
monopoly status, numerous small unions based on employment 
interests were established. Unions may now freely form and 
join federations or confederations and affiliate with and 
participate in international trade union bodies. The new 
Congolese trade uniions have not yet contracted any formal 
international affiliations, but a number of them cooperate with 
foreign, usually French, counterparts. 

Unions are free to strike, but in theory a strike may not take 
place until after both parties, employer and union, have gone 
through a process of nonbinding arbitration under the auspices 
of the regional inspector of the Department of Labor . The 
Government reserves the right to halt all strikes that are 
"inimical to the public order," a phrase which it currently 
interprets to mean "violent." There were several strikes in 
1991, especially in the oil sector. There were also brief 
transportation strikes and general strikes. Most of these 
occurred in Pointe Noire and took place without government 
interference. 

b. The Right to Organize and Bargain Collectively 

The free union system is recent, and not all the methods of 
bargaining and mediation have yet been worked out. In the 
past, wages were determined by agreement between the union, 
Unicongo (the employers' group), and the Ministry of Labor. 
The salary schedules were then published in one of the many 
"conventions" that exist for each industry. 

The unions are currently engaged in a common effort to 
accomplish three major goals: (1) gain higher wages; (2) 
tenure more categories of workers (making them extremely 
expensive to fire, even in cases of economic contraction); and 
(3) prevent the privatization of the old state monopolies. 
Goals one and two are part of every current bargaining 
session. These sessions are frequently tinged with violence; 
and several death threats against employers were reported in 
1991. The third goal is presently in abeyance as the State has 
not yet abolished any of its monopolies. However, this may 
become an issue after the June 1992 elections, when a popularly 
elected government is expected to begin promised restucturing 
of state-owned enterprises. 

Differences between workers and employers are adjudicated in 
special labor courts jointly administered by the Departments of 
Justice and Labor, with oversight by the Supreme Court. These 
labor courts have jurisdiction over all labor issues, not just 
those involving unions. 

There are no special export processing zones in the Congo. 



92 



CONGO 

c. Prohibition of Forced or Compulsory Labor 

Forced labor, except as part of the penal process, is forbidden 
under the new bill of rights and is not currently practiced. 
Traditional forms of slavery, however, persist in parts of the 
country (see Section 5). 

d. Minimum Age for Employment of Children 

The minimum age for employment is 16. This is enforced only in 
the formal wage sector by the Ministry of Labor. Children 
often work at younger ages on family farms in the large 
sxibsistence agricultural sector. 

e. Acceptable Conditions of Work 

The Government sets a minimum wage, theoretically at a level 
that allows for "human dignity." In those trades subject to 
"conventions," (see Section 6.b.) the agreed upon minimxim wages 
are all considerably higher than the legal minimum. However, 
even these wages are often guite low in comparison to the cost 
of living and many workers hold second jobs, practice 
subsistence agriculture, or receive help from the extended 
family. The Labor Code specifies not only reasonable pay, but 
also paid holidays, sick leave, overtime after 40 hours a week, 
and regular days of leisure. Health and safety standards are 
supposed to be enforced by twice yearly visits by officers from 
the Ministry of Labor. An informal survey suggests that the 
inspections are made but on a less than regular basis. 



93 



COTE D ' IVOIRE 



Power in Cote d'lvoire is concentrated in President Felix 
Houphouet-Boigny, who has been the country's leader since 
independence, and in the political party he foiinded, the 
Democratic Party of Cote d'lvoire (PDCI). After many years as 
a de facto one-party state. Cote d'lvoire adopted a multiparty 
political system in 1990 and held multiparty elections at the 
presidential, legislative, and municipal levels. In the same 
year, the President appointed a Prime Minister who serves at 
his pleasure. Despite genuine reforms which have resulted in a 
flourishing of political parties and opposition groups, 
Houphouet-Boigny and the PDCI, winners of the 1990 elections, 
continue to dominate all levels of government. 

Cote d'lvoire's security apparatus includes the Security Police 
(Surete) and the Gendarmerie, a branch of the armed forces with 
responsibility for general law enforcement. The Gendarmerie is 
the primary police organization outside the cities and is under 
the Ministry of Defense. 

During the 1980 's. Cote d'lvoire was squeezed by a heavy debt 
burden and falling prices for its exports, principally cocoa, 
coffee, and tropical woods. Per capita annual income slipped 
in recent years from well over $1,000 to about $700. After 
reaching agreement with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) 
and World Bank on a stabilization program in 1989, the 
Government brought its budget under tighter control, instituted 
changes in the tax code, and launched an ambitious program of 
privatization and administrative reform. 

Human rights in general improved in 1991 as the Government came 
to accept the existence of various opposition groupings and a 
vigorous and vigilant press. Nonetheless, there were serious 
human rights violations, including physical abuse resulting in 
the death of one soldier and a raid on university dormitories 
in which three young women were repeatedly raped, and many 
students severely beaten. Security forces sometimes use 
beatings to extract confessions or as punishment. Further, the 
Government clamped down on the press for defamation of public 
officials and insulting the President. 

RESPECT FOR HUMAN RIGHTS 

Section 1 Respect for the Integrity of the Person, Including 
Freedom from: 

a. Political and Other Extrajudicial Killing 

There were no known political killings by government forces; 
one student was killed by other students (see Sec. l.d.). In 
the only known extrajudicial killing, according to credible 
reports Corporal Benjamin Ble Liade died on July 19 as a result 
of severe physical abuse while being interrogated by the army 
in connection with an alleged mutiny. 

b. Disappearance 

There were no substantiated reports of officially sanctioned 
abduction or disappearance. 

c. Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading 

Treatment or Punishment 

Criminal suspects are sometimes beaten by the police in order 
to extract a confession or as, punishment . Non-Ivorian Africans 



94 



COTE D'lVOIRE 

residing in Cote d'lvoire are routinely treated more roughly by 
police on arrest than are Ivorians. There were no instances in 
1991 of officials being punished for mistreatment of detainees 
or prisoners. 

On May 17-18, military commandos staged a midnight raid on 
University of Abidjan dormitories in Yopougon to arrest 
dissident student leaders. Three women were repeatedly raped 
by soldiers, and several students were severely beaten. The 
soldiers forced students to engage in humiliating acts such as 
licking up the blood of fellow students. Under public 
pressure. President Houphouet-Boigny established a Commission 
of Inquiry which reported to him on November 15. The report 
was only made public on January 29, 1992. The President did 
not accept the Commission's recommendation that those persons 
identified as responsible be punished. 

Sanitary conditions in many prisons are abysmal. Common 
problems include open sewers, lack of bathing facilities, 
unclean food, and infestation by rats and mice. Such 
conditions at the Yopougon Prison resulted in an outbreak of 
cholera in early September which killed some 50 prisoners. 

d. Arbitrary Arrest, Detention, or Exile 

Under the Code of Penal Procedure, a public prosecutor may 
order the detention of a suspect for up to 48 hours without 
bringing charges. The Code dictates that longer detention must 
be ordered by a magistrate, who may authorize periods of up to 
4 months, but who must also provide the Minister of Justice, on 
a monthly basis, a written justification for continued 
detention. There have been some reports that local police have 
held persons for more than 48 hours without bringing charges. 
Defendants are not guaranteed the right to a judicial 
determination of the legality of their detention. The 
Government has been known in the past to have critics convicted 
on trumped-up criminal charges so as to avoid being accused of 
holding political detainees. Over 100 students were detained 
briefly after the May events, even though most were innocent of 
any wrongdoing. 

Following the June 17 murder of Zebie Thierry, a reputed 
government -hi red thug, by a University of Abidjan student mob, 
some 20 students were arrested and jailed. Two of them were 
charged with murder, instigation, and destruction of property. 
The others were held without charge until President 
Houphouet-Boigny ordered their release 2 months later. 

In the past, some prominent critics of the Government have 
chosen to live and work abroad. With the restoration of a 
multiparty political system in 1990, however, many of those 
with serious political aims returned. Political exiles from a 
number of countries have found Cote d'lvoire a hospitable safe 
haven as long as they do not engage in political activities 
directed against their home governments. 

e. Denial of a Fair Public Trial 

The modern judicial system is headed by a Supreme Court and 
includes a Court of Appeals and lower courts. Although the 
judiciary is generally considered independent of the executive 
in ordinary criminal cases, in practice as well as under the 
Constitution's separation of powers provisions, the judiciary 
follows the lead of the executive in cases concerning perceived 
national security issues. There have also been credible 



95 



COTE D ' IVOIRE 

reports that the courts have given lenient treatment to persons 
with personal connections to the Government. 

Ivorian law establishes the right to a public trial, although 
key evidence is sometimes given in camera. Defendants have the 
right to be present at their trials, and their innocence is 
presumed. Those Convicted have the right of appeal, though in 
practice verdicts are rarely overturned. Defendants accused of 
felonies or capital crimes have the right to legal counsel, and 
the judicial system provides for court-appointed attorneys for 
indigent defendants. In practice, many defendants cannot 
afford private counsel, and court-appointed attorneys are not 
readily available. 

In rural areas, justice is often administered at the village 
level through traditional institutions which handle domestic 
disputes, minor land questions, and family law. Dispute 
resolution is by extended debate, with no known instances of 
resort to physical punishment. These traditional courts are 
increasingly superseded by the formal judicial system. 
Civilians are not tried by military courts. Although there are 
no appellate courts within the military justice system, persons 
convicted by a military tribunal may petition the Supreme Court 
to set aside the tribunal's verdict and order a retrial. 

It is a crime, punishable by 3 months to 2 years in prison, to 
offend the President. In 1991 a journalist, who wrote that 
President Houphouet-Boigny had "lost his reason" and was a 
"tyrant," and his publisher were convicted and served 3 months 
and 2 months, respectively, in prison. They also paid 
substantial fines. A businessman. Innocent Anaky, who was 
widely believed to have been charged with financial impropriety 
because of his political activities, was convicted and given an 
unusually harsh 20-year sentence. He served nearly 3 years in 
prison until his release in a general amnesty on September 29. 
The total number of political prisoners is unknown but is 
believed to be small. The Government claims that there are 
none. 

f . Arbitrary Interference with Privacy, Family, Home, or 
Correspondence 

In Cote d'lvoire's multiparty political system, citizens are 
free to join any political party or none at all. However, 
public officials and employees of state-owned corporations are 
subjected to pressure to become members of the PDCI . Party 
membership lists are sometimes passed to employees by their 
supervisors, and those who fail to sign up are believed to 
suffer in terms of promotion. 

The Code of Penal Procedure specifies that a police official or 
investigative magistrate may conduct searches of homes without 
a judicial warrant if there is reason to believe that there is 
evidence on the premises concerning a crime. The official must 
have the prosecutor's agreement to retain any objects seized in 
the search and is required to have witnesses to the search, 
which may not take place between the hours of 9 p.m. and 4 a.m. 
The police sometimes use a general search warrant without a 
name or address . Such was the case in mid-July when the houses 
of three prominent opposition leaders were searched in 
connection with the Zebie killing a month earlier. None of 
those searched had been at the scene of the crime, and no 
incriminating evidence was found in their homes. In addition, 
the police have entered homes of foreign Africans (or rounded 
them up on the streets), taken them to the local police 



96 



COTE D ' IVOIRE 

Station, and extorted small amounts of money for alleged minor 
offenses. In October officials of the Bureau of Mines in 
Odienne, without notice, burned down a mining camp in which 
about 500 people were living. According to the officials, the 
miners had been working without a permit. There is an ongoing 
government investigation of the incident, but no results have 
yet been released nor has anyone been charged. 

There are credible reports that the police used informers at 
the University of Abidjan to provide data on dissident 
political activity. Private telephone conversations are 
believed to be monitored to some degree, although the extent of 
such monitoring is unknown. There is no evidence that private 
correspondence is monitored. 

Section 2 Respect for Civil Liberties, Including: 

a. Freedom of Speech and Press 

Free expression is provided for in the Constitution, but until 
recently this right was significantly limited in practice. In 
1991 public criticism of government policies and even of the 
President was common. Critics of the Government express 
themselves in informal situations without fear of reprisal. 

The Government operates the radio and television networks and 
uses these media to promote its policies. Most of the news 
programming is devoted to coverage of the activities of the 
President, the Government, and the PDCI . The opposition 
parties repeatedly appealed to the Minister of Communication to 
grant them greater access to the state-run broadcast media. 
The National Assembly President negotiated an agreement with 
the opposition to increase coverage of opposition policies and 
viewpoints. As a result, coverage has increased. 

The variety of newspapers expanded significantly in 1991 to a 
total of more than 20. There are now four daily newspapers. 
Those with the widest circulation, Fraternite-Matin and the 
evening paper Ivoire Soir, are government run. In 1991 both 
newspapers ran stories critical of government policies and 
increased their coverage of the political opposition. A third 
daily. La Voie, is an organ of the Ivorian Popular Front (FPI), 
Cote d' Ivoire 's strongest opposition party. Finally, La 
Chronique du Soir is independent. Most of the weekly 
newspapers are either affiliated with opposition political 
parties or, if unaffiliated, nevertheless critical of the 
Government. Foreign publications circulate freely, but the 
Government occasionally expels foreign journalists who write 
unfavorable articles. An Agence France Presse journalist, who 
inaccurately reported that students were killed in the Yopougon 
raid of May 17-18, was expelled from the country. 

Although criticism of government policies is tolerated, insults 
or attacks on the honor of the country's highest officials are 
not. Two Ivorian journalists served jail sentences in 1991 for 
offending the President. In addition, six journalists from 
four newspapers were convicted on November 6 for alleging 
without proof that the Prime Minister was corrupt. Each was 
given a suspended sentence of 2 months in jail and a fine of 
about $3,500. The National Assembly President strongly 
criticized the press in an October speech, accusing them of 
"violence of the pen." A press law was enacted in December 
which created a new commission to enforce laws against 
publishing defamatory material or material "undermining the 



97 



COTE D ' IVOIRE 

credit of the nation." The law imposes stiff penalties, 
including the seizure of offending newspapers. 

Many prominent Ivorian scholars are active in opposition 
politics and have not suffered professionally. The Government 
insists, however, that teachers separate their political 
activity from their work in the classroom. 

b. Freedom of Peaceful Assembly and Association 

Freedom of assembly is guaranteed by the Constitution but in 
practice is restricted when the Government perceives a 
significant and immediate danger to public order. Although 
opposition parties believe that the Constitution permits 
private associations of any sort, the Government disagrees, and 
all organizations must register before commencing activities. 
Registration is sometimes denied, and this device has prevented 
the formation of some political parties, although 40 were 
registered by the end of the year. Further, Ivorian law 
prohibits the formation of political parties along ethnic or 
religious lines. 

Permits are required for public meetings and are sometimes 
denied to the opposition but never to the PDCI . Gatherings 
occasionally are prohibited to prevent the expression of 
controversial views in public forums. Following the Yopougon 
raid of May 17-18, the Ivorian League of Human Rights (LIDHO) 
applied for permission to organize a protest march. The 
Minister of Interior and Security proposed an itinerary which 
was unacceptable to LIDHO. On June 5, LIDHO demonstrated 
without a permit. Police used truncheons and tear gas to 
disperse the peaceful crowd, and eight people were injured. 

On June 17, several thousand students rioted at the University 
of Abidjan, and part of the mob killed a reputed government 
agent (see Section l.d.). Three days later, the Prime Minister 
ordered the prosecution of the executive board of the 
Federation of Students and Pupils of Cote d'lvoire (FESCI) for 
incitement to murder, and he dissolved FESCI under the law 
which prohibits associations from provoking public disorder. 

c. Freedom of Religion 

There are no known impediments to religious expression. There 
is no dominant religion, and no faith is officially favored by 
the Government. The open practice of religion is permitted, 
and there are no restrictions on religious ceremonies or 
teaching. 

d. Freedom of Movement Within the Country, Foreign 
Travel, Emigration, and Repatriation 

The Government exercises minimal control over domestic travel. 
However, there are numerous internal roadblocks at which 
persons are frequently harassed, and small amounts of money are 
extorted for contrived or minor infractions. 

Ivorians normally can travel abroad and emigrate freely. In 
1991, however, teachers were required to present to the Ivorian 
passport control before boarding an airplane the written 
authorization of the Ministry of Education; if they were on 
strike, authorization was denied. Ivorians have the right of 
voluntary repatriation. There are no known cases of revocation 
of citizenship. 



98 



COTE D' IVOIRE 

Cote d'lvoire's refugee and asylum practices are liberal. The 
country has resettled or granted safe haven to many refugees 
from different countries. In 1990 more than 230,000 refugees 
from the Liberian civil war entered the country, and most 
stayed through 1991. While in Cote d'lvoire, refugees receive 
1-year renewable resident visas for their first 5 years in the 
country, after which they may apply for permanent residence. 
The Liberians are a special case; the Government expects that 
they will go back to Liberia as soon as that country returns to 
normal. The Government is actively involved in managing 
Liberian refugee relief, even though most resources come from 
foreign and international donors. The continued arrival of 
Liberians in 1991 has led the Government to fear that relief is 
acting as a magnet. It has established a committee to review 
the case of each new arrival to determine whether the person 
should be accorded refugee status. The Government is reluctant 
to implement self-sufficiency activities that might encourage 
refugees to remain in Cote d' Ivore. 

Section 3 Respect for Political Rights: The Right of Citizens 
to Change Their Government 

President Houphouet-Boigny and the PDCI were returned to power 
in 1990 in the first multiparty presidential, legislative, and 
municipal elections since independence. Proceedings were 
marred by some serious irregularities. Only at the end of 1991 
did the National Assembly, which has the authority to decide on 
the validity of the elections of its members, convene a 
committee to decide whether irregularities in 11 districts 
would invalidate the results. 

Before the presidential elections, the National Assembly 
effectively restricted the number of candidates by imposing the 
stringent requirement that each candidate must pay a large 
deposit (approximately $80,000), refundable only if the 
candidate received more than 10 percent of the vote in the 
first round of balloting. Opposition parties, which became 
legal only in May 1990, charged that there had been inadequate 
time to prepare for elections held during October-December of 
the same year. Further, they faced onerous restrictions on 
holding meetings and demonstrations and unecpaal access to the 
state-controlled media. There were numerous assertions by 
opposition parties of ballot box stuffing, procedural 
irregularities, and fictitious, or late-designated, polling 
places. In the legislative election, the names of well over 
100 duly registered candidates did not appear on the ballot. 

President Houphouet-Boigny is both Head of State and president 
of the PDCI. In late 1990, he appointed a Prime Minister in 
whose hands are concentrated most day-to-day governmental 
affairs and much economic power. The Prime Minister serves at 
the pleasure of the President. The PDCI holds 165 of the 175 
seats in the National Assembly, which is subordinate to the 
Executive branch. The Assembly confirms and ratifies 
legislative initiatives received from the President. Under the 
President's leadership, the party is governed by an 86-member 
Central Committee and a 418-member Political Bureau. The PDCI 
is a conservative party which has accepted the new multiparty 
political system. The chief opposition party, the FPI, calls 
for a more honest and democratic government and an end to 
cronyism. 

Elections for President, the National Assembly, and municipal 
councils are held every 5 years, with the next elections 
scheduled for 1995. Although under the Constitution only 



99 



COTE D ' IVOIRE 

citizens are entitled to vote, the electoral law extends voting 
rights to non-Ivorian Africans living in Cote d'lvoire, who 
constitute approximately one-third of the country's 
population. There is a secret ballot. 

Section 4 Governmental Attitudes Regarding International and 
Nongovernmental Investigation of Alleged Violations 
of Human Rights 

An internal, independent human rights organization, the Ivorian 
League of Human Rights (LIDHO), was formed in 1987 and was 
recognized by the Government in July 1990. The League has 
actively investigated alleged violations of human rights and 
issued press releases and reports, some of which were critical 
of the Government. In June 1991, the Ivorian Association for 
the Promotion of Human Rights (AIPDH) was established for the 
purpose of improving Ivorians' awareness of their basic 
rights. The group's first major project consisted of 
translating human rights documents into local languages. 
Neither LIDHO nor AIPDH has been impeded by the Government (see 
Section 2.b. ) . 

The Government has been cooperative in the past towards 
international inquiries into its human rights practices. 
Although the Government has not responded publicly to appeals 
from Amnesty International and the International Labor 
Organization (ILO), it has subsecjuently taken positive action 
to correct abuses. 

Section 5 Discrimination Based on Race, Sex, Religion, 
Language, or Social Status 

There is no overt, official discrimination based on race, sex, 
religion, language, or social status. Although French is the 
official language and the language of instruction in the 
schools, radio and television programs are broadcast in major 
local languages. Social and economic mobility are not limited 
by policy or custom on the basis of ethnicity or religion, but 
there are pronounced inec[ualities based on sex, with males 
clearly playing the preponderant role overall. 

While some Ivorian traditional societies accord women 
considerable political and economic power, in rural areas 
tribal customs dictate that menial tasks are performed mostly 
by women, although farm work by men is also common. Government 
policy is to encourage full participation by women in social 
and economic life, but there is considerable informal 
resistance among employers to hiring women, who may be 
considered "undependable" by virtue of potential pregnancy. 

Clitoral excision, which is illegal in Cote d'lvoire, is 
nevertheless practiced particularly among the rural population 
in the north and west. The operation, which usually takes 
place at puberty as one part of a rite of passage, is generally 
performed outside modern medical facilities and can be 
extremely painful and dangerous to health. The Government does 
not make strong efforts to prevent the practice, and social 
pressures are sufficiently strong that it persists, 
particularly in small villages where the tribal chief is the 
primary decisionmaker. Excision is becoming less common as the 
population becomes better educated. 

Violence against women, especially wife beating, is neither 
widely practiced nor tacitly condoned. However, 
representatives of women's organizations state that wife 



100 



COTE D ' IVOIRE 

beating does occur, often leading to divorce. Doctors state 
that they rarely see the victims of domestic violence. A 
severe social stigma is attached to domestic violence of any 
kind; neighbors will often intervene in a domestic quarrel to 
protect a person who is the object of physical abuse. The 
courts and police view domestic violence as a family problem 
unless serious bodily harm is inflicted, in which case criminal 
proceedings do take place. The Government has no clear-cut 
policy regarding wife beating beyond the obvious strictures 
against violence in the civil code. 

Section 6 Worker Rights 

a. The Right of Association 

Workers have the right to form unions under the Labor Code of 
1964, but union membership is not mandatory. For almost 30 
years the government-sponsored labor confederation, the General 
Union of Workers of Cote d'lvoire (UGTCI), dominated union 
activity, except for the independent university teachers', 
secondary school teachers', and doctors' unions. In 1991 
several formerly UGTCI-af filiated unions including those 
representing transport, media, customs, and bank workers broke 
away and became independent. An independent labor federation, 
Dignite, was officially authorized in 1990 but has attracted 
few members. The leader of the UGTCI occupies a senior 
position in the PDCI hierarchy. The UGTCI is a relatively 
passive coordination mechanism rather than an active force for 
worker rights, although it has had some success in improving 
working conditions and safety standards. The UGTCI represents 
approximately one-third to one-half of the organizable work 
force. Independent unions tend to be more activist than those 
within the UGTCI structure. ,Some of the independent unions 
have links to opposition political parties. 

In March gendarmes broke up an extraordinary congress of the 
secondary school teachers' union, using billy clubs and whips. 
The Union congress voted in a new Secretary General, whom the 
Government refused to recognize. The previous Secretary 
General was perceived by the union membership as being too 
close to the ruling PDCI. In November the progovernment 
faction of the union elected a different Secretary General with 
the result that there are two claimants on the position. The 
leader of an independent trade union was repeatedly called in 
for questioning by security authorities during 1991. 

The right to strike is protected in the Constitution and by 
statute. The ILO's Committee of Experts in 1991, however, 
reiterated earlier observations that the Labor Code gives the 
President excessive power to submit an industrial dispute to 
compulsory arbitration in order to bring an end to a strike. 
The Constitution requires a protracted series of negotiations 
and a 6-day notification period before a strike may be held, 
effectively making legal strikes difficult to organize. 
Strikes are seldom authorized by the UGTCI; however, 
independent unions freely strike. In 1991 university teachers, 
secondary school teachers, media workers, and doctors held 
strikes. Although the Government declared the strikes illegal, 
it met many of the strikers' demands. 

The UGTCI, which is a member of the Organization of African 
Trade. Union Unity, formally prohibits its individual trade 
unions from forming or maintaining affiliations with other 
international professional organizations in their fields. 
Independent unions may freely affiliate with international 



101 



COTE D' IVOIRE 

bodies. Dignite is a member of the World Confederation of 
Labor . 

b. The Right to Organize and Bargain Collectively 

The Labor Code grants all Ivorians the right to join unions and 
to bargain collectively. Collective bargaining agreements are 
in effect in many major business enterprises and sectors of the 
civil service. In most cases in which wages are not 
established in negotiations between unions and employers, 
salaries are set by job category in the Ministry of Employment 
and Civil Service. A law prohibiting antiunion discrimination 
is enforced by labor inspectors. There are no export 
processing zones. 

c. Prohibition of Forced or Compulsory Labor 

There have been no reports of forced labor, which is prohibited 
by law. 

d. Minimum Wage for Employment of Children 

In most instances, the legal working minimum age is 16, and the 
Ministry of Employment and Civil Service enforces this 
provision effectively in the civil service and in large 
multinational companies. However, children often work on 
family farms, and in Abidjan some children routinely act as 
street traders and vendors of consumer goods in the informal 
sector. There are also reports of children working in what 
could be described as sweatshop conditions in small workshops. 
Many children leave the formal school system at an early age; 
lower grade education is mandatory but far from universally 
enforced, particularly in rural areas. 

e. Acceptable Conditions of Work 

Cote d'lvoire has an administratively determined monthly wage 
rate which was last adjusted in January 1986. A slightly 
higher rate applies to construction workers. The minimum wage 
is enforced only with respect to salaried workers employed by 
the Government or registered with Social Security. Minimxim 
wages vary according to occupation, with the lowest 
insufficient to provide a decent standard of living for a 
worker and his family. The majority of Ivorians work in 
agriculture or the informal sector where the minimum wage does 
not apply. 

Through the Ministry of Employment and Civil Service, the 
Government enforces a comprehensive Labor Code governing the 
terms and conditions of service for wage earners and salaried 
workers and providing for occupational safety and health 
standards . Those employed in the modern sector are reasonably 
protected against unjust compensation, excessive hours, and 
capricious discharge from employment. The standard legal 
workweek is 40 hours. The law requires overtime payment on a 
graduated scale for hours in excess of the standard. 

In the large informal sector of the economy, involving both 
urban and rural workers, the Government's occupational health 
and safety regulations are enforced erratically at best. 
Government labor inspectors are empowered to order employers to 
improve substandard conditions and, if the employer fails to 
comply, fines can be levied by a labor court. 



102 



DJIBOUTI 



Djibouti is a one-party state ruled since independence in 1977 
by President Hassan Gouled Aptidon and his People's Assembly 
for Progress (RPP), which has been the only lawful political 
party since 1981. Public life in Djibouti is dominated by two 
ethnic groups, the politically predominant Issa (the Somali- 
origin tribe of the President) and the Afar (who are also 
numerous in Ethiopia). The Afar are the largest single tribe, 
but they are outnumbered by the combined Somali ethnic elements 
in Djibouti, among whom the Issa are the largest and most 
influential component. The Presidency is considered reserved 
for an Issa, and the Prime Ministry for an Afar. The various 
ethnic groups are represented proportionally in the Cabinet and 
political bodies, yet the result is a dominant role for the 
Issa in civil service, party, and armed forces. 

Djibouti's security services include three police agencies: 
the National Security Force (FNS) and the National Police, both 
under the Ministry of the Interior, and the Gendarmerie 
(military police), under the Ministry of Defense. The security 
services and the Gendarmerie in particular have earned a 
reputation for using torture and other abusive treatment of 
detainees which continued undiminished in 1991. France assures 
Djibouti's external security and maintains a force of some 
3,800 military personnel (ground, air, and naval) in Djibouti. 

Djibouti's arid soil is unproductive, and there is no industry; 
commerce and services for the 10,000 expatriate (mostly French) 
residents and operation of the seaport and airport account for 
most of the gross domestic product. Although the State is the 
largest employer, persons are free to pursue private business 
interests and to hold personal and real property. 

The human rights climate in Djibouti deteriorated significantly 
during 1991. In addition to continuing use of torture and 
restrictions on freedom of speech, press, assembly, and 
association, an RPP congress rejected political pluralism, and 
the Government detained a number of persons demonstrating 
peacefully in favor of multiparty democracy. In January, 
following an armed rebel attack in the north, security forces 
engaged in mass arrests of Afar, many of whom were tortured 
during interrogations. At the end of the year, ethnic unrest 
in the north deteriorated into a civil war between an Afar 
rebel coalition called the Front for the Restoration of Unity 
and Democracy (FRUD) and government forces. In December 
secarity forces opened fire on Afar civilians in the city of 
Djibouti who refused to cooperate with government searches of 
their homes, killing 40 and wounding an additional 50. 
Mistreatment of illegal immigrants and refugees by gendarmes 
resulted in the death of at least 10 by suffocation. 

RESPECT FOR HUMAN RIGHTS 

Section 1 Respect for the Integrity of the Person, Including 
Freedom from: 

a. Political and Other Extrajudicial Killing 

There were no incidents of targeted political or extrajudicial 
killing during 1991. However, on December 18, security forces 
opened fire on Afars who refused to cooperate with government 
searches of their homes in the city of Djibouti, resulting in 
40 dead and 50 wounded. 



103 



DJIBOUTI 

Throughout 1991 the security forces frequently and harshly 
mistreated refugees fleeing conflict in Somalia and Ethiopia. 
In one egregious incident in September, following an indiscrim- 
inate roundup of Ethiopians, Somalis, and Djiboutians, the 
gendarmes placed 58 detainees in two tiny, almost airless 
prison rooms. The inhumane conditions resulted in at least 
10 persons — the official count — dying through suffocation. The 
Government's investigation of the incident resulted in minor 
disciplinary actions, including the dismissal of two officers 
and the razing of the prison where the 10 died. 

b. Disappeareuice 

A group of 16 persons, who were arrested after the January 
attack and subsequently released, complained to the judicial 
authorities that as many as 400 people, mostly Afars, 
disappeared in January, without any official explanation. 
Most were subsecjuently released. 

c. Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading 
Treatment or Punishment 

The law requires officials to "respect the moral and physical 
dignity of the prisoner." Nevertheless, there were frequent 
reports of torture in 1991, including the documentation of many 
cases. In particular, the security forces use harsh 
interrogation methods, including the use of severe beatings in 
handling detainees, especially political/security suspects and 
undocumented aliens. The practice continues both because of 
official indifference and inadec[uate training of the security 
forces concerning citizens' rights. 

Following an attack in January by Afar rebels on the military 
barracks in Tadjourah, security forces repeatedly raided the 
Afar community, arresting hundreds and torturing many. Most 
were subsecjuently released. However, a letter from 16 detainees 
implicated 22 officers of the FNS and Gendarmerie, accusing 
them of being agents of torture. They said the methods of 
torture included spinning the victim until he becomes 
unconscious, forced ingestion of water, sodomization with glass 
bottles, electric shocks administered to the genitals of men 
and to the breasts of women, suspension by feet and by hands, 
and "shark fishing" in which a bound victim is towed behind a 
powerboat in the open sea. The Government did not undertake an 
investigation of the Tadjourah incident, and no one was 
punished for the many extralegal abuses. 

Prison conditions are harsh, especially in remote desert 
regions, where political detainees and prisoners were 
frequently sent in 1991. 

d. Arbitrary Arrest, Detention, or Exile 

By law, a person may be detained no more than 48 hours without 
an examining magistrate's formal charge. In practice, this 
deadline is ignored in cases of political interest. An accused 
has the right to counsel, which in theory is provided by the 
State if the accused is destitute. An accused person awaiting 
trial may, by a judge's order, be released on bail or personal 
recognizance, or be jailed pending the verdict. 

Close to 70 persons, mainly Afars, were detained follov/ing the 
January attack. Among those arrested in January on grounds of 
state security were Ali Aref Bourhan, his nephew Aref Moheimed 
Aref, and Mohamed Daoud Chehem, formerly director of finance. 



104 



DJIBOUTI 

In the National Assembly, the Prime Minister's chief of staff 
accused the entire Aref family of attempting to overthrow the 
State, participating in assassinations, and associating with 
wrongdoers . 

Omar Daoud, leader of a small armed Afar opposition group, 
remained in prison awaiting trial at year's end. He was 
arrested in June 1990. 

Another notable case of arbitrary detention occurred in April 
when Moh.amed Moussa "Tour-Tour" was arrested after 
demonstrating peacefully in favor of multiparty democracy. 
Whereas the Aref prisoners are of the minority Afar tribe, 
Tour-Tour is an Issa and a former director of planning for the 
President. The Ministry of Justice acknowledged the illegality 
of his imprisonment, but the Ministry of Interior did not 
relent until September 8, when Tour-Tour was released without 
explanation for his 5 months of detention. 

The Government does not use political exile as a means of 
punishment. There are, however, several opposition figures in 
self-exile in France. 

e. Denial of Fair Public Trial 

Djibouti's legal system is a mixture of Djiboutian legislation 
and executive decrees, French codified law adopted at 
independence, Shari'a (Islamic law), and traditions of the 
native nomadic peoples. Crimes in urban areas are dealt with 
according to French-inspired law and judicial practice in the 
regular courts. Civil actions may be brought in the regular 
courts, or in traditional court according to tribal customs. 
Shari'a courts handle only family matters (marriage, divorce, 
inheritance, etc.). Decisions of all three court systems may 
be appealed to the Supreme Court. Proceedings in all courts 
except the State Security Court are open to the public. The 
judiciary is especially susceptible to government influence in 
cases of political interest. Many of the magistrates and 
judges are political appointees with little or no legal 
training. 

The special State Security Court may hear in closed session 
cases of espionage, treason, and acts threatening the public 
order or the "interest of the Republic." Extensive delays are 
typical in such cases due to their political sensitivity. This 
Court convened on December 22 to hear the case of Ali Aref and 
other Afars accused of coup plotting, but it postponed the 
trial at the defense's request — until July 1992. In the 
meantime the defendants remain jailed. 

Opposition figures challenge the legitimacy of the State 
Security Court and the legality of the executive order which 
established it, claiming the Court exists primarily to 
"adjudicate" the cases of political prisoners held according to 
the wishes of the President and his security apparatus. The 
Government has responded positively to domestic and 
international suggestions for judicial reform. The State 
Security Court is now subject to the appeal process before the 
Supreme Court, and while the December session was not open to 
the public, journalists and family members, as well as 
diplomats, were allowed to attend. 



105 



DJIBOUTI 

f . Arbitrary Interference with Privacy, Family* Home, or 
Correspondence 

Security forces in the city of Djibouti recommenced periodic 
roundups during which the FNS and the Gendarmerie 
indiscriminately incarcerate loiterers, many of whom are 
undocumented refugees. The Gendarmerie typically refuses to 
respond to family inquiries regarding people who disappear 
during these roundups. There were no known instances of 
arbitrary interference with correspondence. 

Section 2 Respect for Civil Liberties, Including: 

a. Freedom of Speech and Press 

These freedoms are seriously restricted. Those who express 
public views that are critical of or perceived as threatening 
to the Government face prosecution for common crimes or 
detention without charge for short periods. During 1991, 
unprecedentedly frank discussions took place within the party 
over political reform (see Section 3). Despite the ban on free 
political expression, critics of the regime have published 
clandestine tracts and manifestos th^t circulate widely in 
Djibouti . 

Djibouti's radio and television stations and one newspaper (a 
French- language weekly) are all government owned and operated. 
The Government's avowed policy is to coordinate the 
dissemination of information "in the interest of national 
development." The news media do report on social and national 
development problems in Djibouti, such as the acquired 
immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS) problem and female 
circumcision, but the Government itself and its policies are 
not criticized. The media avoid domestic politics and ethnic 
strife in neighboring Somalia and Ethiopia, although the 
collapse of the Mengistu regime in Ethiopia and the Siad Barre 
regime in Somalia received significant coverage. 

Foreign journalists (e.g., British Broadcasting Corporation 
Somali Service) or members of international organizations, 
including from the staff of the United Nations High 
Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) , in Djibouti were expelled 
during 1991 for discussing ethnic tensions. Copies of one 
issue of a Paris daily newspaper were temporarily held off 
newsstands in July because of an article criticizing Djibouti's 
treatment of Ethiopian escapees in May and June. Issues of the 
monthly Tribune of the Opposition, and those of the Paris 
weekly, the Indian Ocean Newsletter, are also banned. People 
found in possession of these periodicals may be arrested. 

b. Freedom of Peaceful Assembly and Association 

The Government effectively bans political protest by selective 
enforcement of piiblic assembly permit laws. Permits for 
political meetings are not issued outside party auspices. 

Prodemocracy demonstrations in April followed a March RPP 
decision not to accept political pluralism. The leader of the 
first demonstration, Mohamed Moussa Tour-Tour, was arrested and 
detained in the remote military outpost of Moulehoule where he 
was confined for several months until released following a 
hunger strike. Four other prodemocracy demonstrators were 
arrested on April 23 for their political activities (namely, 
demanding Tour-Tour's release); they were released 2 weeks 
later . 



106 

DJIBOUTI 

c. Freedom of Religion 

Djibouti respects freedom of religion for all faiths. 
Virtually the entire population is Sunni Muslim, but the 
Government imposes no sanctions on those who choose to ignore 
Islamic teachings on such matters as diet, alcohol consumption, 
and religious fasting. 

The expatriate community supports Roman Catholic, French 
Protestant, Greek Orthodox, and Ethiopian Orthodox churches. 
Less than 1 percent of the native population belongs to these 
Christian congregations. Foreign clergy and missionaries may 
perform charitable works, but proselytizing is a highly 
sensitive issue and, while not illegal, is discouraged. 

d. Freedom of Movement Within the Country, Foreign 
Travel, Emigration, and Repatriation 

Djiboiitians travel freely within Djibouti and may live and work 
where they choose. Djiboutians leave for, and return from, 
foreign countries without restriction or interference, except 
for travel to Israel or South Africa. The passports of members 
of the Aref family were withheld in January prior to their 
detainment . 

Djibouti cooperates with the UNHCR to assist the approximately 
1,500 registered Ethiopian refugees in the country, many of 
whom returned to Ethiopia in August. Following the collapse of 
the Mengistu regime in neighboring Ethiopia, Djibouti faced a 
massive influx of fleeing Ethiopian army personnel and their 
families. With the assistance of the French military, most of 
these soldiers were stopped or were forced back across the 
border. Many refugees were returned to Ethiopia without UNHCR 
supervision to certify that their repatriation was voluntary. 
Those that refused to return were not accorded refugee status 
but received better treatment than Somali refugees. 

As a matter of policy the Government does not recognize as 
refugees the approximately 94,000 Somali nationals who have 
fled the Somali civil war. The Government has an informal 
agreement with UNHCR that these refugees will not be forcibly 
repatriated if they do not "cause trouble," but UNHCR in fact 
has limited ability to extend protection to these persons, and 
the Government's policy has resulted in inadequate water 
supplies and medical care as well as malnutrition for the 
Somalis . 

Section 3 Respect for Political Rights: The Right of Citizens 
to Change Their Government 

All legal political activity is conducted within Djibouti's 
single party, the People's Assembly for Progress (RPP) . As in 
most Djiboutian institutions, the Issa have a dominant role in 
the RPP, which has had a monopoly of power since the rival 
Djiboutian People's Movement (MPD) was outlawed in 1981. The 
party chooses the candidates for the Presidency and the 
65-member National Assembly, a legislative body with limited 
power. Presidential elections are held every 7 years, and 
elections for the National Assembly every 5 years. Citizens 
are encouraged to vote, but affirmative and negative ballots 
must be cast in different boxes, making it obvious who votes 
against the party. 

In early 1991, the RPP held a congress which was marked by some 
of the most open political debate in years. Several 



107 



DJIBOUTI 

participants called for the end of the single party system and 
a move to multipartyism. The RPP rejected this proposal but 
has now accepted the principle of political pluralism for the 
elections to take place in May 1992. The impetus for change 
has been the armed insurgency led by the FRUD coalition. The 
Government has made -its democratization pledge contingent on 
the cessation of hostilities. 

Section 4 Governmental Attitude Regarding International and 

Nongovernmental Investigation of Alleged Violations 
of Human Rights 

The Government has not responded to repeated attempts by two 
independent groups of Djiboutians to formally register a 
"Djiboutian League for Hviman Rights." A third group has 
complied with all the laws concerning Djiboutian associations 
but has thus far failed to secure official sanction. The 
International Committee of the Red Cross and Amnesty 
International have had limited access to visit some, but not 
all, of Djibouti's political prisoners. The Government has 
also permitted inspection of prison facilities by foreign 
diplomats. However, three UNHCR workers were expelled from 
Djibouti, one of whom had been incarcerated for 7 hours. 

Section 5 Discrimination Based on Race, Sex, Religion, 
Language, or Social Status 

The Issa control the party, the civil service, and the military 
as a result of the President's policy of assigning positions of 
authority to members of his tribal grouping and in particular 
his subclan, the Mammasan. Although other government positions 
are apportioned according to relative tribal numbers, the 
arrangement is suspect as no census figures have ever been 
released. Perc[uisites and corruption have created a class of 
wealthy bureaucrats who live far beyond the means of the 
ordinary Djiboutian. 

Women in Djibouti legally possess full civil rights but 
traditionally play a secondary role in public life. Women are 
active in small trade, as well as in the clerical and 
secretarial fields. There are only a few women in the 
professions (civil service, judiciary, teaching, and medicine) 
and security services. 

According to medical personnel, violence against women — 
including rape and wife beating — occur. While data are 
limited, such violence is still considered a relatively 
infrequent occurrence. Neither the Government nor the 
party-affiliated Djiboutian National Women's Union (UNFD) has 
addressed the issue. Most domestic and community violence is 
considered a family or clan matter, dealt with accordingly, and 
therefore rarely brought to the attention of authorities. The 
UNFD began a government-supported educational campaign against 
female circumcision in 1988, but the campaign appears to have 
had marginal impact, particularly in the northern districts, 
where nomadic traditions of genital mutilation of young girls 
(e.g., clitoral excision and the most dangerous form, 
inf ibulation) are widely practiced. Recent judicial reforms 
have stipulated that anyone found responsible for circumcision 
of young girls that results in genital mutilation could face 
5 years in prison and a $6,000 fine. By implication, circum- 
cisions that are well performed are legal. 



108 

DJIBOUTI 
Section 6 Workers Rights 

a. The Right of Association 

Workers are free to join or not join unions as they choose, but 
less than 20 percent of persons in the wage economy are union 
members. Labor unions thus play a minimal role in Djibouti. 
Many unions represent employees of only a single private or 
state-owned enterprise. The Government exerts control over 
individual unions through the single, state- 
organized labor central, the General Union of Djiboutian 
Workers (UGTD) . Although there is no legal bar to other labor 
centrals, none exist, and the UGTD has no affiliations beyond 
its membership in the continentwide official trade union body, 
the Organization of African Trade Union Unity. Unions are free 
to maintain relations and exchange programs with unions and 
labor organizations in other countries. 

Workers are free to strike, but there were no strikes in 1991. 

b. The Right to Organize and Bargain Collectively 

Although the law recognizes labor's right to organize and 
bargain collectively, in practice, collective bargaining 
virtually does not exist. Relations between employers and 
workers are informal and paternalistic. Wages are in practice 
established unilaterally by employers on the basis of Ministry 
of Labor guidelines. When disputes about wages or health and 
safety issues arise, the Ministry of Labor encourages direct, 
ad hoc resolution by labor representatives and employers. 
Either workers or employers may initiate a formal 
administrative hearing mediated by the labor inspection service 
of the Ministry of Labor. 

There are no export processing zones. 

c. Prohibition of Forced or Compulsory Labor 

By law there is neither forced nor compulsory labor in 
Djibouti, and there are no reports that it is practiced. 

d. Minimum Age for Employment of Children 

The legal minimum age of 14 years is generally respected; 
however, the paucity of inspectors from the Ministry of Labor 
makes it unlikely that investigations are ever carried out, 
according to union sources. Children may and do work in 
family-owned businesses such as restaurants and small shops, 
including at night. Children are not employed under hazardous 
conditions . 

e. Acceptable Conditions of Work 

Minimum wage rates are specified by government regulations 
according to occupational categories and are enforced by the 
Ministry of Labor. Last increased in 1980, minimum wages cover 
a broad range of jobs. Many workers also receive housing or 
housing allowances and transportation and food allowances, in 
addition to mandatory seniority bonuses. In reality, wages are 
lower than the official minimum. Families supplement their 
incomes with second jobs or assistance from relatives. 

By law the maximum workweek is 40 hours, often spread over 
6 days. Overtime pay regulations are in effect. Workers are 



109 



DJIBOUTI 

guaranteed daily and weekly rest periods and paid annual 
vacations. The Ministry of Labor is responsible for 
occupational health and safety standards, wages, and work 
hours. Enforcement of these standards, however, is 
ineffective. Workers face hazardous working conditions, 
particularly in the port where they are exposed to toxic 
chemicals and are not properly clothed to handle these 
materials. Workers in the electric company face equal hazards 
and often work in temperatures exceeding 60 degrees Celsius. 
Workers do not protest, as they fear being replaced by others 
willing to accept the risks. 



no 



EQUATORIAL GUINEA 

Equatorial Guinea is ruled by President Obiang Nguema Mbasogo 
who, "in 1979, as Vice Ministep of Defense, overthrew Francisco 
Macias, the ruthless dictator, of the country from its 
independence in 1968. In 1982 a constitution was promulgated, 
and Obioing officially declared the Government to be civilian. 
In 1986 he established Equatorial Guinea's sole legal political 
party, the Democratic Party of Equatorial Guinea (DPEG) . In 
1989 Obiang staged the first presidential election since 1968; 
as the only candidate, he was elected to a 7-year term. In a 
November 1991 referendum, Obiang submitted to the electorate a 
new Constitution which was not made readily available to the 
public but was approved by 98.38 percent of those voting, 
according to the Government. While providing for a multiparty 
system, the new Constitution, which became law in December, was 
on balance probably a step backwards for individual liberties 
because it entrenched presidential powers and specifically 
granted Obiang lifetime immunity from any legal proceeding. 

As the country's most senior military officer. Brigadier 
General Obiang dominates both the military and civilian 
branches of the State, personally holding six cabinet 
portfolios, including Defense, Foreign Affairs, and Mines and 
Petroleum. Obiang' s Esangui clan and fellow Fang from the 
Mongomo area hold an estimated 50 of the 70 most senior 
official positions in the country. 

Civilian and military security branches are responsible for 
public order, augmented by a presidential guard of 400 to 600 
men provided by Morocco. These forces historically have 
committed the majority of human rights abuses, reportedly often 
at the behest of senior government officials, who commonly have 
been present at torture and interrogation sessions. 

Equatorial Guineans live mainly by subsistence agriculture, 
hunting, and fishing. Per capita annual income is 
approximately $457. The small wage economy, based on cocoa, 
lumber, and coffee, has not recovered from the devastation 
caused by the death or exodus of thousands of trained and 
educated citizens during the Macias era, although a very small 
middle class has emerged in recent years. The country remains 
heavily dependent on foreign aid. 

Almost the entire spectrxom of human rights continued to be 
tightly restricted. Despite President Obiang' s monopoly on 
power, there were growing public pressures to institute a 
multiparty political system. Most of those actively involved 
in opposition activity have been from the professional classes 
of all ethnic groups, majority Fang from outside of the Mongomo 
area as well as Bubi, Ndowe, Combe, Annobonese, and other 
minorities. The Government responded both by arresting, 
detaining, and torturing its opponents, and, at a special DPEG 
congress in August, by promising to institute carefully 
controlled political reform from the top. By the end of the 
year, through the new Constitution, Obiang seemed ready to 
permit limited political opposition as long as it did not 
present a real challenge to his power. As 1991 ended, however, 
security forces had not relaxed their harassment of dissidents, 
arresting at least 24 in Bata at the end of November and 
another 3 late in December, and no opposition party had been 
recognized. 



Ill 

EQOATORIAL GUINEA 

RESPECT FOR HUMAN RIOTTS 

Section 1 Respect for the Integrity of the Person, Including 
Freedom from: 

a. Political and Other Extrajudicial Killing 

No political killings were reported in 1991. One person 
accused of witchcraft was tortured and beaten to death by 
police (see Section i.e.). 

b. Disappearance 

There were no known disappearances. 

c. Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading 
Treatment or Punishment. 

Police and other security forces continued routinely to 
administer torture and other cruel forms of mistreatment to 
prisoners. Authorities employed a wide variety of techniques, 
including severe beatings with sticks and vrtiips, electric 
shocks, hanging victims by their feet or arms, and applying hot 
pepper sauce to sensitive areas of the anatomy. Physical as 
well as psychological torture was used routinely as an aid in 
interrogation and to intimidate and punish prisoners. 

In July Manuel Nguema, Caspar o Asama, and Diosdado Nsue Abaga 
were tortured for causing death by witchcraft. Nguema, 
Equatorial Guinea's Consul at Calabar, had been home on leave 
when his niece called out his name in her dying delirium. All 
three men were accused, detained, and tortured. Nsue, \rtio was 
detained and tortured a second time, died as a result. Three 
women who interceded on Nsue s behalf were stripped by police 
and brutally mistreated. Subsequently, four policemen were 
convicted and sentenced to 8 to 10 years in prison for their 
involvement in Nsue's death. A traditional healer also 
convicted in the case was given a light sentence and released 
after a few days, presumably because she was the wife and 
sister of senior government officials. The police officer who 
directed the beating was not punished. 

In August the six men still imprisoned for participation in an 
alleged 1988 coup plot were beaten with whips at Bata prison 
and sxibsequently denied medical attention. 

Prison conditions continued to be extremely harsh. Basic 
amenities were rarely provided, and prisoners' essential needs 
were largely supplied by their families or friends. The 
Government is reported to provide only a single loaf of bread 
per prisoner per day. 

d. Arbitrary Arrest, Detention, or Exile 

Despite constitutional provisions, there was little enforcement 
of the rights of persons in detention to be charged or released 
within a reasonable period of time, to have access to a lawyer, 
or to be released on bail. Arbitrary arrests by security 
forces or police are cornnonplace, often on spurious charges, in 
order to extort money or to gain personal revenge. Many 
detainees are held incommunicado, although the right to habeas 
corpus and application for pretrial release are provided for in 
the Constitution. The number of detainees — political as well 
as criminal — held at the end of 1991 was not known. 



112 



EQUATORIAL GUINEA 

The Goverrunent uses arbitrary arrest, interrogation, torture, 
and banishment to remote villages to intimidate dissidents and 
keep a viable opposition from forming. In May Alfonso Nsue 
Mokuy, chief of special programming at Equatorial Guinea Radio 
and Television; £usebio Abaga Ondo Maye, former ambassador to 
the Soviet Union; and three other prominent officials accused 
of supporting political pluralism were detained, interrogated 
at security headquarters in Malabo, and banished to their home 
villages. The banishment was rescinded after a short time. In 
a similar case, Ricardo Nvu Mba was banished in February to his 
home village where he remained at year's end. 

In August, less than 2 weeks before a scheduled visit to 
Equatorial Guinea by Spanish President Felipe Gonzalez, three 
persons, including a journalist, were detained for several days 
and fined after being interviewed by a visiting Spanish 
journalist . 

Sever?il persons living in Luba on Bioko Island, including the 
Luba DPEG chief, the municipal secretary, and the director of 
the public school, were accused of causing a death through 
witchcraft, detained for more than a month, and tortured. They 
were eventually released without charge. 

Jesus Ela Abeme, former ambassador to France, was detained on 
suspicion of distributing antigovernment literature, tortured, 
held at security headquarters in Malabo for several weeks, and 
then released without being formally charged. 

The Government continues to maintain that it encourages exiles 
to return to Equatorial Guinea, assuring them that they will 
not be persecuted. At the same time, however, the Government 
makes it clear that political activity outside the sole legal 
party will not be tolerated. In November, 24 politically 
related exiles from Libreville were arrested on their return 
and held without charge for several weeks. Although they 
reportedly had returned to participate in the multiparty system 
announced in the new Constitution, most were eventually sent to 
their home villages and warned to remain there and not to 
become further involved in politics. There were credible 
reports during December of continued harassment of people who 
wished to participate in political groupings under the new 
Constitution. Harassment took the form of surveillance, brief 
detentions, summary dismissals from government employment, and 
evictions from government-owned housing. 

In July the Secretary General of the Reformed Church of 
Equatorial Guinea, Jaime Sipoto, led a delegation to Geneva to 
attend a conference of Equatorial Guinean exiles and human 
rights and religious organizations. Upon returning to 
Equatorial Guinea, Sipoto presented to President Obiang a 
proposal for a committee of conference participants to visit 
Equatorial Guinea to arrange for the return and reintegration 
of the exiles. The proposal also included a plan for 
democratic reform in Equatorial Guinea. 

e. Denial of Fair Public Trial 

There is a formal court structure, with the Supreme Court at 
the apex, and also military and customary (traditional) court 
systems. Traditional laws and customs are honored in the 
formal court system when not in conflict with national law. 
The tribunal provided for in the Constitution to decide 
constitutional issues has never been established; in the 
meantime, the Council of State — appointed by the President and 



113 



EQUATORIAL GUINEA 

responsible to him — is empowered to rule on constitutional 
questions. Under the Constitution, military tribunals hear all 
capital cases. 

There is no separation between the executive and the judiciary, 
and Supreme Court justices serve at the pleasure of the 
President. The executive branch acts with little respect or 
understanding for judicial independence. The nation's mixture 
of traditional law, military law, and Spanish rules and 
procedures combines to produce an inconsistent system of 
justice. Judges and court officials are poorly trained. There 
is little concept of due process, and appellate proceedings are 
virtually nonexistent. Defendants unable to afford legal 
counsel stand little chance of acquittal. The fact that the 
few lawyers (approximately 20) in the country depend on their 
connections to the Government for a livelihood raises questions 
about the impartiality of the defense their clients might 
receive. 

The Government appears to use charges of "kong" (traditional 
witchcraft which is believed can cause injury or death) to jail 
those suspected of engaging in proscribed political activity as 
well as to gain personal revenge. Since the statutes of 
Equatorial Guinea do not refer to witchcraft, such cases are 
reportedly handled outside the normal court system by the 
Director General of National Security, Armengol Ondo Nguema 
(President Obiang's brother), and Ricardo Mangue, Chief of the 
Appellate Court. In February 1990, the mayor of Ebebiyin and 
five others were ordered imprisoned for periods of 4 to 23 
years. Although no public trial was held, the men are believed 
to have been accused of causing the death by "kong" of a 
brother of the mayor, who was killed in a road accident. The 
real reason for their arrest and incarceration is reliably 
reported to be that they were attempting to form an opposition 
political party. Apparently all six were released from prison 
late in 1991. 

The number of political and security prisoners held at the end 
of 1991 was not known. Two of the six men held in connection 
with the 1988 coup plot were freed from prison as part of a 
limited prisoner release ordered by President Obiang. The six 
had been convicted in unfair trials. Venancio Miko, imprisoned 
since 1983 on charges of plotting a coup, was released at about 
the same time. 

In 1990 Spain and the United Nations Human Rights Commission 
(UNHRC) jointly financed a visit to Equatorial Guinea by two 
senior Spanish judges to review the court system and civil 
registry and to make recommendations for improving them. The 
judges presented a report to the UNHRC in Geneva and to the 
Governments of Spain and Equatorial Guinea. The report 
recommended measures to improve Equatorial Guinea's judicial 
system and respect for human rights. Spain also agreed to 
train judges who would then serve on the Supreme Court. There 
has been no followup to the report on the part of the 
Government of Equatorial Guinea, although the establishment of 
an official human rights commission may have been one outcome 
of their visit (see Section 4) . 

f . Arbitrary Interference With Privacy, Family, Home, or 
Correspondence 

The Government sometimes places under surveillance persons it 
deems suspicious. While many believe telephone conversations 
are routinely monitored, there seems to be no deliberate 



114 



EQUATORIAL GUINEA 

interference with correspondence. Although required by the 
Constitution, search warrants are not normally used. 

Section 2 Respect for Civil Liberties, Including 

a. Freedom of Speech and Press 

Public criticism of the Government is not tolerated. Several 
employees of the government radio and television service were 
detained for talking to a foreign journalist. In another case, 
a journalist was threatened with death by a senior government 
press official for filing a report which the official claimed 
misrepresented President Obiang's views. The Government owns a 
small occasional newspaper and the only television and radio 
stations. Domestic news is government produced and contains no 
criticism of the Government. International news items are 
generally supplied by the Spanish agency EFE and other sources. 
Distribution of foreign publications critical of the Government 
is forbidden. Several persons were arrested or restricted to 
their home villages for possession of the Spanish weekly 
newsmagazine Cambio 16 containing articles critical of the 
Government of Equatorial Guinea. 

b. Freedom of Peaceful Assembly and Association 

Despite constitutional provisions guaranteeing these freedoms, 
the Government continues to ban opposition political 
organizations and assemblies. Private nonpolitical groups, 
such as professional organizations, churches, and sports 
groups, require government approval to hold meetings. 

c. Freedom of Religion 

With one exception, freedom of religion is generally 
respected. Jehovah's witnesses, originally banned from the 
country in 1985 and harassed in 1986 and 1987, are still 
prohibited from practicing their religion. Christianity, 
mainly Roman Catholicism, is the predominant religion, often 
interspersed with traditional religions. The Islamic and 
Baha ' i faiths are also practiced openly. In general, active 
proselytizing by Protestant denominations is discouraged, but 
conversions are permitted. Government permission must be 
obtained to open new places of worship. Foreign clergy and 
missionaries continue to have an active role in educational 
development. All denominations are allowed to participate in 
charitable as well as religious activities. 

A religious law promulgated in June forbade ministers of 
religion to criticize the Government or state organizations in 
their sermons. The new law seemed to be aimed at the Roman 
Catholic Church, since some of its clergy, including the late 
Archbishop of Malabo Raphael Nze Abuy, who died in July, had 
publicly criticized the Government and called for greater 
openness in the country and respect for human rights. 

d. Freedom of Movement Within the Country, Foreign 
Travel, Emigration, and Repatriation 

Citizens and residents of Equatorial Guinea generally may 
travel freely within the country, but permits are needed to 
visit Mount Basile, just south of Malabo, where a 
communications center is situated, and Moka in the southern 
part of Bioko Island. Police, who are poorly paid and trained, 
often extort small payments for passage through traffic 
checkpoints on major roads. At times police become abusive and 



115 



EQUATORIAL GUINEA 

refused without valid reason to permit travelers to pass 
checkpoints. There are restrictions on travel abroad, 
including lengthy delays in obtaining passports. Both citizens 
and residents of Equatorial Guinea must obtain exit permits, 
issued by the security police, to leave the country. Many 
Equato-Guineans leave the country without formal documentation 
for both economic and political reasons and reside abroad, 
mostly in Gabon, Cameroon, Spain, and France. 

The Government publicly encourages Equato-Guineans abroad to 
return, but in 1991 few did so. Severe Moto, exiled leader of 
the Progressive Party, was denied the right to return to his 
native country when the Ecjuatorial Guinean Embassy in Madrid 
refused to renew his passport. Moto was also belittled by name 
in the government-run press. 

There are a number of workers from other African countries in 
Equatorial Guinea. These workers sometimes must resort to 
bribery to obtain legal registration but generally are free to 
work and travel within the country. 

Section 3 Respect for Political Rights: The Right of Citizens 
to Change Their Government 

The people of Equatorial Guinea do not have the right to change 
their government by democratic means. President Obiang's 
party, DPEG, is the only political party allowed to function as 
of the end of 1991. Since its founding in 1986, only party 
members have been permitted to be candidates in local as well 
as national elections. The legislature is subordinate to the 
executive with no independent authority; all governors are 
appointed and removed by the President; all locally elected 
officials serve at the pleasure of the President as well. 

Nevertheless, there was growing public pressure throughout the 
year, especially from the small professional class, to adopt a 
multiparty political system. Obiang called a national 
referendum on November 17 which approved a new Constitution — 
reportedly by 98.38 percent of those voting. The Constitution 
permits a multiparty system and separates the office of the 
Chief of State, who would remain the President, from that of 
the Head of Government, which would be a revamped office of 
Prime Minister. The Constitution entrenched presidential power 
and granted Obiang lifelong legal immunity for his actions 
before, during, and after his term of office. The text of the 
Constitution was not made public until after the referendum. 
At the end of the year, security forces continued to harass 
political dissidents as well as families of exiles involved in 
politics abroad. 

Section 4 Governmental Attitude Regarding International and 

Nongovernmental Investigation of Alleged Violations 
of Human Rights 

In September 1990, citing an Amnesty International (AI) report 
on torture in Equatorial Guinea, President Obiang announced 
formation of a human rights commission. He did not name the 
members of the commission until February 1991, and the 
commission did not hold its first meeting until September. 
Seven of 14 members are also members of the House of People's 
Representatives (two of these are also ministers). At year's 
end it appeared the commission would have largely a ceremonial 
role. At the invitation of President Obiang, the United 
Nations Human Rights Commission specialist, Volio Jimenez, 
madean extensive trip in November during which he was given 
access to prisons. His report is expected to be made public in 
1992; 



116 



EQUATORIAL GUINEA 

Section 5 Discrimination Based on Race, Sex, Religion, 
Language, or Social Status 

Although the law calls for equal treatment for all citizens, 
ethnic groups are not granted the same rights and privileges. 
The Fang comprise 75 percent of the population, the Bubi 15 
percent, and other groups the remainder. A small number of 
Fang clans, especially those of the President and relatives by 
marriage, dominate all aspects of government, the military, and 
social life. Discrimination against the Bubi and Fernandino of 
Bioko Island, as well as the Ndowe and associated coastal 
groups from the continent, is consistent, whether in the 
granting of political office or the approval of academic 
scholarships. There are, however, members of minority groups 
in positions of prominence but with little real authority, 
e.g., a Bubi has held the office of Prime Minister since 1982, 
and the President of the House of People's Representatives is a 
member of the Benga ethnic group from the island of Corisco. 

Women are confined by custom to traditional roles, especially 
in agriculture. Polygamy, which is widespread, contributes to 
the secondary status given to women in society. According to 
the Government, boys and girls, once they gain admission, are 
equally likely to complete secondary school. However, 
according to recent U.N. data, females in Equatorial Guinea 
receive only one-fifth as much schooling as males. The 
Constitution and laws guarantee equal rights for women, and 
there is no legal discrimination in employment, though women 
are largely excluded from some fields, such as the military, by 
tradition. The Ministry for the Promotion of Women focuses on 
agriculture, handicrafts, and professional training. It is 
interested in developing women's agricultural cooperatives and 
enrolling more women in the school of professional training in 
Malabo. 

According to medical professionals, violence against women, 
particularly wife beating, is common. Child abuse is 
uncommon. The Government has not addressed violence as an 
issue and looks to the Ministry for the Promotion of Women to 
advance the interests of women in Equatorial Guinean society. 
According to the medical community, female circumcision is not 
practiced in Equatorial Guinea. 

Section 6 Worker Rights 

a. The Right of Association 

Workers do not have the right of free association. In the 
small wage economy, no labor organizations exist, although 
there are a few cooperatives with limited power. Strikes are 
prohibited by law. 

b. The Right to Organize and Bargain Collectively 

There is no legislation regarding these rights or addressing 
antiunion discrimination and no evidence of collective 
bargaining by any group. Wages are set by the Government and 
the employers, with little or no input by workers. The 
employer must meet the minimum wage set by the Government, and 
most companies pay above the government-established minimum. 
There are no export processing or free trade zones. 



117 



EQUATORIAL GUINEA 

c. Prohibition of Forced or Compulsory Labor 

Forced labor and slavery are prohibited by law, and slavery 
does not exist in Equatorial Guinea. However, persons detained 
without formal charges at Blackbich prison and security 
headquarters in J^alabo and the police station in Luba during 
1991 were forced to do day labor on the farms, at residential 
construction sites, and in businesses of senior government 
officials. 

d. Minimum Age for Employment of Children 

The legal minimum age for employment is 16, but there is no 
enforcement of this law. Children younger than 16 commonly 
assist families with agricultural production and sales. 

e. Acceptable Conditions of Work 

There is only a small industrial sector in the country. Most 
salaried employment is provided by the Government, construction 
companies, businesses providing retail goods and services, and 
the plantation agricultural sector. In April 1990, the 
Government increased the statutory minimum wage rates for 
workers in nonagricultural sectors. The minimum wage law is 
not widely enforced, and government employees are exempted from 
its provisions. The minimum wage by itself does not provide a 
worker and family with a decent living, and most of those with 
regular salaried income have to supplement their earnings with 
income from other sources or by farming. The law limits the 
regular workweek to 48 hours and guarantees employees 1 rest 
day per week, plus regularly scheduled national holidays. The 
Labor Code offers comprehensive protection for workers from 
occupational hazards, but it is not effectively enforced. 
Safety and health committees which are explicitly sanctioned by 
the Code do not function, and employees who protest unhealthful 
or dangerous working conditions risk losing their jobs. 



118 



ETHIOPIA 



A coalition of ethnic-based insurgencies toppled the repressive 
regime of President Mengistu Haile-Mariam in late May, bringing 
profound political changes to Ethiopia. The former president 
flew into exile in Zimbabwe after losing a series of decisive 
battles to an umbrella group known as the Ethiopian People's 
Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) . In addition, the 
Eritrean People's Liberation Front (EPLF) seized the Red Sea 
coastline, ending a long struggle for control of the former 
Italian colony of Eritrea. In July a broad-based national 
conference adopted a charter establishing a multiparty 
Transitional Government (TG) to organize democratic and 
multiparty national elections before 1994. EPRDF Secretary 
General Meles Zenawi was elected President of the TG. The 
National Conference also acknowledged a separate provisional 
government for Eritrea under EPLF Secretary General Issaias 
Afwerki and endorsed an internationally supervised referendum 
on Eritrea's political future to be held in 2 years. 

The new leadership qpiickly dismantled the extensive military 
and security apparatus of the Mengistu government, including 
the police and surveillance operations by neighborhood 
committees known as kebeles. The joint military/police force 
of the TG consists of some 120,000 to 140,000 EPRDF regulars. 
While retaining the kebele structure for administrative 
purposes, the TG instituted a parallel system of thousands of 
"Peace and Stability Committees" with sweeping powers of 
investigation, arrest, and detention. Complicating the picture 
were thousands of armed followers of other political groups 
represented in the TG. At year's end, the TG had not been able 
to eliminate armed ethnic clashes, particularly in the 
countryside. In Eritrea, approximately 90,000 EPLF regulars 
made up the provisional government's military/security force. 

The civil war extended into the principal food producing and 
coffee growing areas of Ethiopia, which was already one of the 
world's least developed countries with an annual per capita 
income of $120. When Mengistu' s government finally collapsed, 
over a million civilians had been displaced by war; food and 
fuel shortages were chronic; the national treasury was empty; 
foreign exchange was reduced to less than 1 day of imports; and 
inflation reached an annual rate of 21 percent. At year's end, 
both the TG and EPLF provisional government had under 
consideration draft plans calling for partial privatization and 
market oriented reforms, leading in the direction of a mixed 
economy . 

Civil war remained the primary factor affecting human rights 
during the first 5 months. All parties to the conflict 
committed major violations, including summary executions, 
although the majority of these came from the Mengistu forces 
(see Section l.g.). The change of government brought a 
significant improvement in human rights, particularly with 
respect to freedom of speech, assembly, association, religion, 
and travel. The new leaders in both Addis Ababa and Asmara 
stated their commitment to the establishment of multiparty 
democracy and rule of law with full respect for human rights. 
They began important investigations into extrajudicial killings 
and disappearances by the Mengistu regime. Nevertheless, there 
were new and serious human rights abuses, notably in the hasty, 
ill-prepared expulsions of non-Eritreans from Eritrea; in the 
detentions without charge of thousands of former Mengistu 
government officials; in the political disenf ranchisement of 
former members of the now banned Workers' Party of Ethiopia 
(WPE); in the use of force in response to growing criminal 



119 



ETHIOPIA 

activity and political challenges; and, above all, in the 
continuing ethnic instability and politically motivated 
violence, which by the end of 1991 had taken several thousand 
lives . 

RESPECT FOR HUMAN RIGHTS 

Section 1 Respect for the Integrity of the Person, Including 
Freedom from: 

a. Political and Other Extrajudicial Killing 

The Mengistu government carried out thousands of political and 
extrajudicial killings during its 17 years in power. The 
victims of these killings were suspected opponents of the 
regime or sympathizers with any number of opposition groups; 
ethnic Eritreans, Oromos, and Tigrayans were frequently 
targeted. Captured insurgents were often executed. 

Throughout the civil war, EPRDF forces generally abided by 
conduct codes which forbid the killing of unarmed prisoners. 
However, they frequently executed summarily accused looters, 
whether civilian or military, including EPRDF members. EPRDF 
radio appeals in March to the general public in Gonder and 
Gojam to apprehend escaping Mengistu government officials 
probably sparked some unnecessary killings, but those 
surrendering to the EPRDF were given protection. Faced with 
demonstrations during the first 2 days following their takeover 
of Addis Ababa, the EPRDF acknowledged shooting at least nine 
demonstrators dead, some of them armed. A number of accused 
looters were also executed without trial. There were no 
instances, however, of extrajudicial killing of former Mengistu 
government officials. 

After the TG came to power in July, there were dozens of 
instances of violent clashes in the countryside between local 
military elements of political parties within the TG. In a 
number of instances, rival groups repeatedly engaged in 
politically or ethnically motivated killings. The ready 
availability of automatic weapons contributed to the problem. 
In one such case, hundreds of members of one ethnic group were 
slain by a rival group armed with automatic weapons on the 
shores of Lake Abaya in early June. EPRDF and Oromo Liberation 
Front (OLF) troops clashed in the Arsi region in November and 
in the Welega and Harerge regions in December. Also in 
December, local EPRDF forces fired on a motorcade carrying the 
leader of the Sidamo Liberation Movement (SLM) in Awasa (Sidamo 
region), resulting in at least one death. In this and other 
cases, the national leadership of the political groups 
intervened to mediate and investigate. When wrongdoing was 
uncovered, the EPRDF appeared more likely to discipline its 
members than other political groups. 

In Eritrea the Mengistu government summarily executed dozens of 
civilians during the first 5 months of the year. EPLF 
assassination teams also targeted civilians whom it accused of 
collaborating with the Mengistu government. At least four 
civilians, including a member of the Mengistu government's 
national parliament, were assassinated early in the year. 
Since the EPLF provisional government took power in Eritrea in 
late May, there have been no allegations of politically 
motivated or extrajudicial killings. 



120 

ETHIOPIA 

b. Disappearance 

In previous years, thousands of suspected opponents of the 
Mengistu government disappeared, and a number of Mengistu 
government officials also disappeared in areas falling under 
insurgent control. 

Since the TG came to power in Addis Ababa, there have been 
charges and countercharges among its various political parties 
of politically motivated violence in the countryside, including 
some disappearances of party workers. 

In Eritrea, the former director of the Asmara police hospital 
disappeared after being taken into EPLF custody in May. 
International human rights organizations tried to trace reports 
that a half-dozen other persons, most arrested in Addis Ababa 
and repatriated to Eritrea, also disappeared while in EPLF 
custody. 

c. Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading 
Treatment or Punishment 

During the Mengistu era, both political and criminal prisoners 
were routinely subjected to physical abuse and torture, 
including beatings and whippings, electrical shocks, and 
suffocation, during interrogations. Female detainees were 
frequently raped. Under the TG, Ethiopian television has aired 
testimony from former victims of such torture. 

There have been no allegations of torture in Ethiopian jails, 
prisons, or detention centers since Mengistu' s ouster. Three 
weeks after capturing Addis Ababa, the interim EPRDF 
administration announced that all detained Mengistu government 
officials would be treated humanely. The National Charter of 
the TG abjures torture and other cruel, inhuman, or degrading 
treatment or punishment. 

d. Arbitrary Arrest, Detention, or Exile 

Despite protections contained in the 1987 constitution, 
citizens suspected of opposing the Mengistu government were 
subject to arrest and detention without charge or judicial 
review. In addition, thousands were detained without charge 
over the years under states of emergency declared by the 
Mengistu government in Eritrea and Tigray, which permitted 
indefinite detention. 

At the beginning of 1991, Mengistu 's government was believed to 
have an estimated 500 persons under political detention, most 
of them without charge. In the days immediately preceding the 
EPRDF capture of Addis Ababa, Mengistu government jailers set 
free most prisoners held in the city, criminal as well as 
political. The TG denied inheriting any political prisoners 
detained by the Mengistu government. The Mengistu government 
did not use exile as a means of political control, but more 
than 1 million citizens fled the country during the Mengistu 
years to escape war and persecution. 

The TG National Charter approved in July prohibits arbitrary 
arrest, detention, and exile. Since their seizure of power in 
late May, however, the new authorities have detained thousands 
of civilians without charge, the largest number being senior 
Mengistu government or WPE officials arrested solely because of 
the position they held. Also detained were former Mengistu 
government officials accused of corruption or believed involved 



121 



ETHIOPIA 

in violations of humanitarian law. While thousands were 
subsequently released, additional suspects continued to be 
arrested on the recommendation of local Peace and Stability 
Committees throughout the country. In addition, the TG set up 
"Complaints Review and Grievance Clearing Committees" to 
investigate allegations of corruption or abuse of power. 

At year's end, the TG authorities acknowledged having 1,522 
Mengistu government civilians under detention who had still not 
been charged — a consequence, TG officials said, of abolishing 
the Mengistu police force (formally charged with 
investigations) and suspending Mengistu public prosecutors and 
judges. In addition, other civilians, perhaps hundreds, have 
been detained without charge by the EPRDF or other political 
organizations around the country. In November the TG detained 
four nationals from neighboring Djibouti without charge, 
reportedly at the behest of the Djiboutian authorities. In the 
absence of a police force, investigations became the 
responsibility of EPRDF administrators, local Peace and 
Stability Committees, Complaints Review Committees, and 
personnel from the newly reconstituted Ministries of Internal 
Affairs and Defense. The new judicial system was not yet in 
place at the end of 1991. 

With support from international donors, the TG demobilized the 
majority of the 350,000 to 450,000 soldiers from the defeated 
Mengistu army. According to the International Committee of the 
Red Cross (ICRC), of the 250,000 former soldiers originally 
held in TG detention facilities, all but 13,275 had been 
released by the end of 1991. Of those still in detention, 
9,500 were disabled war veterans accommodated for humanitarian 
reasons, and 1,100 were former officers detained for possible 
war crimes trials. 

In Eritrea the Mengistu government had detained hundreds of 
civilians suspected of sympathizing with the EPLF during the 
first 5 months of the year. In the port of Aseb, several 
hundred ethnic Eritreans and Tigrayans were also detained, 
including drivers operating U.N. vehicles delivering relief 
food. Of the 85,000 Mengistu military captured by the EPLF in 
May (see Section l.g.), all but 900 had been repatriated to 
Ethiopia by the end of the year. While no formal charges had 
been brought against the 900, all were suspected of war 
crimes. Under an agreement with the TG, these 900 were to be 
repatriated to Ethiopia for possible trial. In addition, the 
EPLF acknowledged having detained 300 Mengistu government and 
WPE officials still under detention without charge in December, 
as well as 600 other civilians accused of criminal offenses. 
While difficult to evaluate, some human rights monitoring 
groups believe the number of civilians detained in Eritrea at 
year's end was several times the figure given by the EPLF. 

The EPLF provisional government published new civil and 
criminal codes on September 15 which contain a full range of 
judicial safeguards, including habeas corpus and a 48-hour 
limit on detention without charge (with the possibility of no 
more than two 14-day extensions with judicial authorization) . 
The EPLF provisional government does not use exile as a means 
of political control. 

e. Denial of Fair Public Trial 

For the first 5 months of 1991, the judicial system was based 
on the 1987 Mengistu government's constitution which 
established a Supreme Court and regional courts elected by the 



122 



ETHIOPIA 

respective parliaments. Separate military courts handled not 
only trials involving the Mengistu government military but were 
also set up in contested areas. Despite constitutional 
provisions for judicial independence and public trials, cases 
deemed political in nature were often subject to manipulation 
and meddling by senior Mengistu officials. 

The EPRDF capture of power brought sweeping changes in the 
judicial system: the Mengistu government's Ministries of 
Defense and Internal Affairs were disbanded and reorganized 
only after a delay of 7 weeks; the entire police force was 
dismissed (customs police and traffic police were later 
reinstated); and government judges and public prosecutors were 
suspended. EPRDF soldiers initially assumed all police 
functions, but within weeks Peace and Stability Committees had 
been established at most local and regional levels. On June 
18, the EPRDF announced that all trials of Mengistu government 
detainees would be fair and public, follow due process, be open 
to international observers, with defendants having the right to 
counsel. The TG National Charter approved in July also 
promised fair and public trials before independent and 
impartial tribunals, presumption of innocence, and no ex post 
facto criminal laws. 

As of late 1991, no trials of former Mengistu government 
officials had begun. TG Ministers of Justice and Internal 
Affairs were first appointed in August. By year's end, the 
TG ' s overworked Council of Representatives still had not 
established the independent judiciary called for in the July 
Charter. The Council passed legislation at the end of December 
establishing new police forces at the national and regional 
level. A draft proposal to establish an office of the special 
prosecutor for the cases of former Mengistu officials was 
circulating. Investigations proceeded throughout the year, 
however, carried out variously by local Peace and Stability 
Committees which sometimes gathered testimony in public 
meetings. Complaints Review and Grievance Clearing Committees 
in the workplace, EPRDF administrators, and personnel from the 
newly reconstituted Ministries of Internal Affairs and 
Defense. The Council banned former WPE members from any 
political activity, and hundreds of former WPE members lost 
their jobs in some ministries, including noncareer diplomats 
abroad. Others in the civil service, many of whom had joined 
the WPE reluctantly or in order to further their careers, found 
themselves increasingly harassed by their TG superiors. 

In Eritrea the EPLF provisional government established a 
separate judiciary in September. At the apex of the EPLF 
provisional government's judicial system is a 12-member High 
Court made up of legal professionals appointed by the EPLF 
provisional government's Justice Secretary, who was responsible 
for court administration. Appointments to lower courts were 
made by the President of the High Court. Some judges from the 
Mengistu government were retained. To ensure judicial 
independence, judges were given immunity from arrest and were 
subject to removal only by an independent committee. 
Investigations into alleged wrongdoing were the reponsibility 
of the EPLF provisional government's Secretary for Security, 
whereas prosecutions fell to a newly established Attorney 
General's office. The Eritrean court system became functional 
only in November, and there had been no trials of former 
Mengistu government officials by year's end. 



123 



ETHIOPIA 

f . Arbitrary Interference with Privacy, Family, Home, or 
Correspondence 

The Mengistu government's police and security ignored 
constitutional requirements to obtain warrants for the search 
of offices or private homes, monitoring mail, or conducting 
visual and electronic surveillance, and operated extensive nets 
of informers, especially through urban kebeles. 

During the first several weeks after their capture of Addis 
Ababa and other cities, EPRDF forces conducted house-to-house 
searches (sometimes involving forced entry) for firearms and 
former Mengistu officials in hiding. The TG National Charter 
approved in July prohibits arbitrary interference in privacy, 
family, home, or correspondence. Nevertheless, complaints 
remained common about intrusions into private premises by the 
frequently rotated EPRDF troops who provided public security in 
urban areas in the absence of a police force. Local Peace and 
Stability Committees often appeared to act arbitrarily in 
authorizing searches and arrests by the EPRDF. Unlicensed 
possession of firearms continued to bedevil TG authorities, and 
private and commercial vehicles were subject to random 
searches. Former WPE members were required to report to their 
local Committee every Sunday; failure to do so could result in 
arrest . 

The July National Charter explicitly condemned the Mengistu 
government's previous coercive policies of resettlement and 
villagization and promised priority attention to the 
rehabilitation of persons uprooted under these programs. 

In Eritrea the EPLF also engaged in searches of homes and 
offices for firearms and Mengistu government officials in 
hiding. By October the EPLF provisional government authorities 
said legal protections against warrantless searches were in 
place. 

g. Use of Excessive Force and Violations of Hiimanitarian 
Law in Internal Conflicts 

Untold thousands of civilians died in the civil war which ended 
in May 1991. All parties to the conflict at times engaged in 
military operations with scant regard for civilian lives. 
There is no reliable estimate of the number of civilian 
casualties during the final months of the war. 

The Mengistu government stepped up its enlistment efforts to 
include all veterans, retired police and security officers, and 
reservists, some in their 50 ' s and 60 's. Despite guidance that 
new recruits be 18 years or older, some recruits as young as 14 
were caught up in indiscriminate sweeps outside schools or in 
marketplaces. Lethal force was sometimes used in stopping 
those trying to avoid recruitment. While relying primarily on 
volunteers, the EPLF, EPRDF, and OLF on occasion enlisted 
minors, some as young as those conscripted by Mengistu' s 
government . 

The retreating Mengistu government military units generally 
exercised good discipline with regard to treatment of civilians 
in the final months of the war. In some instances, however, 
such as in Nekemte (Welega region) in late March, in Ambo 
(Shewa region) in mid-April, and in western Eritrea in late 
May, there were credible allegations of robbery, rape, 
beatings, and killings of civilians by undisciplined Mengistu 
troops. EPRDF and EPLF soldiers showed a high degree of 



124 



ETHIOPIA 

discipline and 9ivi^ behavior toward civilians throughout the 
final stages of the war. 

Upwards of 1,000 civilians died on May 28 while attempting to 
loot a munitions plant booby-trapped by the Mengistu government 
in the Addis Ababa suburb of Gulele. Another 140 civilians 
died and 150 were wounded when former Mengistu government 
military personnel sabotaged a munitions dump in the Nefas Silk 
suburb on June 4. The explosion and resulting fire also left 
7,000 homeless. 

Treatment of captured Mengistu government military personnel 
was reportedly good, thereby enabling the insurgents to recruit 
large numbers into their ranks. Nevertheless, the former rebel 
groups and the Mengistu government alike refused to accord 
those captured prisoner of war status and barred the ICRC 
access throughout the course of the war. Shortly after 
capturing Asmara, the EPLF expelled an ICRC medical team there 
that had been assisting with war wounded. The ICRC office in 
Addis Ababa remained open after the EPRDF took power and worked 
closely with the TG in setting up transit camps for demobilized 
Mengistu government soldiers. In December the TG authorized 
the ICRC to visit all former Mengistu government and WPE 
civilians remaining in detention. 

The international relief structure largely held together 
throughout the year, although military operations occasionally 
interfered with the flow of relief. While not as a result of 
deliberate effort by the Mengistu government or its opponents, 
the war seriously disrupted the flow of relief to Somali and 
Sudanese refugee camps in the southeast and southwest, 
resulting in serious food ration deficits in some camps. 

Section 2 Respect for Civil Liberties, Including: 

a. Freedom of Speech and Press 

Freedom of speech and press did not exist under the Mengistu 
government. The government strictly controlled the content of 
the state-owned and -operated information media, and individual 
expression of unauthorized political opinions or views could 
and did result in imprisonment. 

The TG's National Charter, approved in July, provides for 
freedom of opinion and expression and the right to impart these 
through any media, although, pending action on a new press law, 
all broadcast and most print media remained under state control 
through the end of 1991. Nevertheless, individuals and 
political groups, including those critical of the TG, had 
access to the state-controlled media. A TG proclamation 
guaranteeing free and equal access by all political 
organizations to state-controlled broadcast and print media 
took effect in November and appeared to be respected in 
practice. Three political parties (the EPRDF, the OLF, and the 
Oromo People's Democratic Organization, or OPDO) began 
publishing their own newspapers in the fall. Ethiopia's first 
independent tabloid newspaper began appearing irregularly by 
year's end. Owing to lack of foreign exchange, newsprint 
remained in short supply, and foreign magazines and newspapers 
were not readily available. 

In Eritrea the EPLF provisional government abolished the 
Mengistu government's censorship boards. It imposed no 
restrictions on independent newspapers, and four small 
newspapers printed by Eritrean religious organizations 



125 



ETHIOPIA 

circulated freely. In September the EPLF government introduced 
a new government newspaper, which due to shortage of newsprint 
was published only twice a week. The availability of foreign 
magazines and newspapers was also restricted due to lack of 
foreign exchange. The state-controlled newspaper and radio 
broadcasts allowed access to opposition views. 

b. Freedom of Peaceful Assembly and Association 

Freedom of assembly and association expanded greatly during 
1991. Despite constitutional guarantees, the Mengistu 
government did not allow citizens to organize or demonstrate 
against official policies, and it influenced or controlled most 
organizations in the country. 

The day after entering Addis Ababa, the EPRDF banned 
demonstrations after several turned violent. In the weeks that 
followed, however, the EPRDF interim administration permitted 
dozens of peaceful demonstrations. The July National Charter 
endorsed freedom of association, peaceable assembly, and the 
right to engage in unrestricted political activity and to 
organize political parties. On August 15, the TG issued a 
proclamation recognizing the right to demonstrate, and popular 
demonstrations became routine around the country, including 
those protesting TG policies. 

While there was a proliferation of political organizations (59 
by the end of the year) after the TG was formed, not all 
political parties were free to organize. Mengistu 's WPE and 
its various appendages were dissolved after the EPRDF seized 
power in late May. The ban was later endorsed by the TG's 
Council of Representatives in August. 

While not formally banned, certain expatriate groups which 
reject the principles of the National Charter were also not 
free to organize in the country, among them: the Coalition of 
Ethiopian Democratic Forces, the Ethiopian People's 
Revolutionary Party, and the All-Ethiopian Socialist Movement 
(MEISON) . On August 15, the TG issued a proclamation requiring 
organizers to inform authorities of public political meetings 
48 hours in advance. While implementation of the proclamation 
did not prove restrictive to organizations which gave notice, 
in some cases local EPRDF administrators in the countryside 
cited the proclamation as justification for breaking up 
unauthorized political meetings and sometimes arresting 
participants. In November three executives of the United 
Democratic Nationals (UDN) party were arrested after 
participants in an authorized UDN demonstration attacked TG 
security personnel. The UDN leaders were charged with 
responsibility for the incident under the terms of their 
demonstration permit, and a trial in one of the civilian courts 
still functioning was scheduled for January 1992. As of the 
end of 1991, the need for procedures for registering political 
parties and other organizations was under discussion in the TG 
Council of Representatives. 

In Eritrea, by contrast, the EPLF was synonymous with the 
provisional government, and there were no restrictions on the 
freedom of assembly; no permits for meetings were recjuired. 
EPLF provisional government leaders declared all individuals 
and groups were entitled to express their views freely in the 
period leading up to the referendum. As of late 1991, no rules 
for the registration of political or other organizations had 
been drafted. 



126 

ETHIOPIA 

c. Freedom of Religion 

Following the 1974 revolution, the Ethiopian Orthodox Church 
lost its status as state church and saw its extensive land 
holdings — perhaps as much as 30 percent of all cultivated land 
at the time — confiscated by the State. Under the Mengistu 
government, all religions were declared equal, but WPE members 
were prohibited from religious worship services, and references 
to any deity were not allowed to appear in the media. Certain 
religions, particularly foreign Protestant evangelical 
organizations, were persecuted for alleged political 
activities, their leaders arrested, their followers sometimes 
killed, and many churches closed. The Jehovah's Witnesses were 
totally banned. 

Since coming to power in July, TG officials have advocated 
complete freedom of religion. The July National Charter 
guaranteed freedom of religion, including private and public 
worship and the right of conversion. Across southern Ethiopia, 
the TG returned hundreds of Protestant churches closed by the 
Mengistu government in the late 1970 's. It lifted the ban on 
the Jehovah's Witnesses; 4,000 adherents held their first Bible 
study in public in September. The construction of some 
mosques, halted 15 years ago, resumed. Links with foreign 
religious bodies were freely allowed. 

The TG authorities appeared to intervene, however, in Ethiopian 
Orthodox Church affairs in late August, forcing the Ethiopian 
Orthodox Patriarch from office, allegedly for cooperation with 
the Mengistu government. The Ethiopian Orthodox Holy Synod 
named a committee to oversee church affairs until a new 
Patriarch could be elected. 

In interconf essional violence in the second half of the year, 
churches and moscjues were burned and hundreds may have died. 
TG authorities attempted to mediate the disputes. 

Most of Ethiopia's small Jewish population, known as Beta 
Israel or "Falasha" (a word meaning immigrant or outsider), 
left their traditional homelands in Gonder and Tigray during 
1990 and emigrated to Israel in 1991. By year's end, 
approximately 4,500 Jews were believed to remain in Ethiopia, 
and emigration processing was already under way for these few. 
There were no reports of violence or discrimination against 
Jews or "Feres Mora" (Jewish converts to Christianity) by 
either Mengistu or TG officials during the year. 

In Eritrea the EPLF provisional government also proclaimed 
freedom of religion. The EPLF provisional government announced 
its intention to return church property confiscated by the 
former government and pledged not to interfere in internal 
religious matters. Religious schools closed by the Mengistu 
government were encouraged to reopen. 

d. Freedom of Movement Within the Country, Foreign 
Travel, Emigration, and Repatriation 

During the first 5 months of the year, freedom of movement 
around the country was increasingly restricted by the civil war 
and deteriorating security conditions. Foreign travel, 
emigration, and repatriation were severely restricted by 
Mengistu government policies. In late May, the interim 
government of Lt. General Tesfaye Gebre-Kidan oversaw the 
emergency humanitarian airlift of 14,000 Jews from Addis Ababa 
to Israel. 



127 



ETHIOPIA 

The National Charter adopted in July recognizes freedom of 
movement, including the right to foreign travel and 
emigration. Citizens no longer require permission for local 
travel; however, there were credible reports that some local TG 
officials discouraged migration between regions in order to 
dampen ethnic tensions. Authorities maintained that Jews have 
the Seime right of emigration as other citizens without special 
government-to-government agreements that characterized the 
Mengistu regime. Emigration of individual Jews resumed in 
September. The TG also declared that all citizens remaining in 
exile were welcome to return. 

Despite its own domestic turmoil, Ethiopia was host during the 
year to hundreds of thousands of refugees fleeing civil war and 
instability in Somalia and Sudan. The TG has been cooperative 
with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) 
and other international agencies and generally adheres to 
international norms for refugees. However the TG did not 
maintain a continuous presence in Somali and Sudanese 
refugee/returnee camps, as had the Mengistu government. 
Refugee protection remained problematic throughout the year. 

In southeastern Ethiopia, approximately 400,000 to 500,000 
Somali refugees were joined by 350,000 Ethiopian returnees 
driven out by fighting in Somalia. An estimated 100,000 Somali 
refugees spontaneously returned to northwest Somalia by the end 
of 1991. There were credible reports of military recruitment 
among war-displaced refugees/returnees by the OLF and various 
ethnic Somali-based political groups. Such recruitment 
continued in the second half of the year, despite TG 
injunctions. In southwestern Ethiopia, the Sudanese People's 
Liberation Army (SPLA) forcibly recruited refugees, from 
refugee camps which the SPLA was allowed to control by the 
Mengistu government, into its armed forces. Following 
Mengistu' s fall in late May, the SPLA evacuated, in some cases 
forcibly, tens of thousands of Sudanese refugees from these 
long established camps; less than 10,000 had returned to 
Ethiopia by year's end. 

In Eritrea tens of thousands of non-Eritrean civilians fled 
during the final stages of the war. Despite intense 
international criticism, the EPLF provisional government 
hastily repatriated to Ethiopia 85,000 former members of the 
Mengistu military and about 50,000 dependents in June and 
July. Although denying it was making forced expulsions, the 
provisional government also arranged the repatriation to 
Ethiopia of tens of thousands of other non-Eritreans . In 
December the EPLF provisional government expelled 495 orphans 
whom it deemed non-Eritrean. Nonetheless, tens of thousands of 
non-Eritreans have opted to remain in Eritrea. Following the 
announcement of a general amnesty on June 22, thousands of 
Eritrean refugees returned voluntarily from Sudan. By year's 
end, the EPLF provisional government had not promulgated an 
emigration/ immigration law. 

Section 3 Respect for Political Rights: The Right of Citizens 
to Change Their Government 

Ethiopians have not enjoyed the right to change their 
government peacefully at any time in the last century. In 
1991, however, the collapse of Mengistu' s authoritarian rule 
brought to power new political forces with the express 
intention of creating a multiparty system which, if 
implemented, would enable citizens to change their government 
through democratic elections. For the first 5 months of the 



128 



ETHIOPIA 

year, political power in the Mengistu government was formally 
institutionalized in the WPE, the only legal party. 

Despite its overwhelming military advantage, the EPRDF invited 
27 political and ethnic organizations to attend a July 1-5 
National Conference held in Addis Ababa. Conference 
13rticipants agreed on a National Charter that spelled out 
universal guarantees of human rights, recognized the right of 
self-determination for all Ethiopian peoples, and set out a 
timetable for establishing a multiparty democracy by January 
1994 at the latest. The National Conference also set up a 
multiparty Transitional Government (TG) to administer the 
country until a new constitution is drafted and national 
elections held. The coalition of ethnic-based insurgencies 
that toppled the Mengistu government in midyear has attempted 
to forge a new political consensus based on recognition of the 
country's ethnic and linguistic diversity. 

The TG consists of a quasi-legislative Council of 
Representatives (87 members representing 32 political and 
ethnic groups), a Council of Ministers (17 members representing 
7 groups), and an independent judiciary (not yet established by 
year's end). The Cabinet announced in August also included the 
first female minister in Ethiopian history. The EPRDF 
(actually a coalition of four parties) does not enjoy 
majorities in either the Council of Representatives or the 
Council of Ministers, but it captured most of the key positions 
in the Transitional Government (President, Prime Minister, 
Foreign Affairs, Defense, Internal Affairs). EPRDF officials 
are also predominant in the "provisional administrative 
committees" in cities and towns outside the capital. Local and 
regional elections planned for October were delayed until 1992 
as the Council of Representatives debated how to redraw the 
administrative boundaries to reflect ethnic divisions and 
election procedures. 

In Eritrea, on the other hand, the EPLF administers a one-party 
provisional government tasked with governing until an 
internationally supervised referendum on Eritrea's political 
future can be held. With the general population evenly divided 
between Christians and Muslims, the EPLF emphasized religious 
balance in leadership positions: five of the nine members of 
the EPLF Politburo are Muslim, and Muslims hold half of the 
portfolios in the EPLF provisional government cabinet. 
Delegates to the Addis Ababa National Conference in July, which 
the EPLF attended as an observer, supported interim 
administration for Eritrea and recognized the Eritrean people's 
right to self-determination through an internationally 
supervised referendum, which the EPLF agreed to defer for up to 
2 years. In September the EPLF provisional government invited 
U.N. assistance in supervising the referendum, and in December 
the TG officially requested U.N. assistance in the Eritrean 
referendum. Once the referendum is held, EPLF leaders said 
they plan to convene a constituent assembly to draft a new 
constitution based on a multiparty political system and 
democratic elections. 

Section 4 Governmental Attitude Regarding International and 

Nongovernmental Investigation of Alleged Violations 
of Human Rights 

In October a group of private citizens organized Ethiopia's 
first independent human rights monitoring body: the Ethiopian 
Human Rights Council (EHRCO), headed by a prominent academic 
and frequent critic of the TG. Also in October, two other 



129 



ETHIOPIA 

private groups formed to further political dialog and promote 
respect for democratic rights: the Ethiopian Congress for 
Democracy (ECD) and Forum-84 . All three groups have been 
allowed to operate freely and have access to state-controlled 
media to broadcast information about their activities. As of 
December , there had been no attempts to form any local human 
rights monitoring group in Eritrea. 

The Mengistu government had a long record of resistance to 
international efforts to investigate human rights abuses. The 
new TG has been generally willing to discuss human rights 
concerns with diplomatic missions and international and 
nongovernmental organizations. Amnesty International 
representatives had their first free and unrestricted visit to 
Ethiopia in July and visited again in December to investigate 
alleged violations of human rights. An Africa Watch delegation 
visited Ethiopia in October. Both groups were received by 
high-level TG officials and given prominent coverage in the 
state-controlled media. 

In Eritrea the EPLF provisional government expelled the ICRC 
shortly after seizing power in May, but in December agreed to a 
reestablished ICRC presence to cooperate with local authorities 
in the field of orthopedics. EPLF officials agreed in 
principle that international and nongovernmental organizations 
be allowed access to investigate human rights conditions. In 
December the EPLF provisional government received an Amnesty 
International delegation. 

Section 5 Discrimination Based on Race, Sex, Religion, 
Language, or Social Status 

More than 72 disparate ethnic groups, most having their own 
tribal languages, make up Ethiopia's population of over 50 
million. The inability of the Mengistu government to deal in a 
noncoercive manner with the political and socioeconomic 
aspirations of these various groups contributed decisively to 
its downfall. The National Charter affirms the right of all 
Ethiopian peoples to preserve separate languages and 
identities, with recourse to self-determination, including 
independence. 

The TG abolished the Mengistu government's Revolutionary 
Ethiopian Women's Association (REWA) , an appendage of the 
banned WPE, and detained the former chairwoman without charge. 
No successor organization has been formed. 

Despite protections afforded them in the 1987 constitution, 
women are accorded low social status in many traditional 
cultures in the country. U.N. studies document marriage at 
very young ages, hard and time-consuming labor, unequal 
employment opportunities, and below average wages in urban 
areas. However, women in the major Ethiopian ethnic groups 
(Amhara, Oromo, Tigrayan) enjoy certain economic and legal 
rights equal to men; they may inherit, sell, or buy property, 
and engage freely in commerce. Despite a large number of 
female soldiers in the EPRDF forces, women are not well 
represented in leadership positions in the EPRDF or any of the 
other newly formed parties. 

The TG has established a national committee on traditional 
practices considered harmful to women. Among them: female 
circumcision (affecting fourth-fifths of all Ethiopian women); 
tatooing (a possible means of AIDS virus transmission); 
insertion of lip and ear plates among some southwestern tribes; 



130 



ETHIOPIA 

nutritional taboos; and child marriage. Domestic violence 
remains common. While women have recourse to police protection 
and official prosecution in cases of domestic violence, 
societal norms and fear of loss of the social security that 
marriage provides inhibit many women from seeking legal 
redress. The TG established a new desk for women's rights in 
the Ministry of Justice. 

In Eritrea the EPLF provisional government worked to 
accommodate nine indigenous ethnic groups and Christian-Muslim 
divisions in the Eritrean population of 3 to 4 million. Women 
in Eritrea are accorded inferior social status in many 
traditional cultures. Nevertheless, participation by women in 
the armed struggle — one-third of EPLF fighters were female — is 
working to change attitudes. Six women sit on the 71-member 
EPLF Central Committee. The EPLF provisional government 
codified a broad range of rights for Eritrean women in 
mid-September, including guarantees of equal educational 
opportunity; land ownership, equal pay for ec[ual work, and 
other economic and legal rights; and legal sanctions against 
domestic violence. The campaign against dangerous traditional 
practices, including female circumcision, nutritional taboos, 
and traditional birth methods was taken up by the National 
Union of Eritrean Women. 

Section 6 Worker Rights 

a. The Right of Association 

Under the Mengistu government, the nonagricultural labor force 
was mandatorily organized into a single trade union federation, 
the Ethiopian Trade Union (ETU) , under the control of the 
ruling WPE. Agricultural workers were organized in the 
Ethiopian Peasant's Association (EPA), also under WPE control. 
Despite guarantees in the 1987 constitution, workers and 
farmers were not permitted to organize outside the ETU and EPA, 
and the WPE approved candidate slates for all union officials. 
The right to strike was recognized in principle, but forbidden 
in practice. 

Upon taking power, the Transitional Government (TG) dissolved 
the ETU and EPA at the national level. The TG National Charter 
recognizes the right to form and join trade unions. Beginning 
in July, the TG organized elections for new union officials at 
the factory-level, barring former members of the WPE and 
security personnel from voting and holding office. Similar 
elections were held in those peasant associations that survived 
the transition. 

By the end of 1991, no new new national bodies for workers and 
peasants had yet been established, but planning was under way 
by the TG for convening a national labor congress to discuss 
the issue. The TG's Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs was 
responsible for drafting a new labor code; in the interim, the 
existing 1975 Labor Code remained in effect. Under this Code, 
the right of affiliation to international organizations was 
reserved to the ETU. Despite its dissolution, the ETU 
technically remained an affiliate of the Communist-dominated 
World Federation of Trade Unions at the end of the year. 

Workers were free to form and join unions of their own choosing 
without TG authorization, and this right was exercised 
extensively. The 1975 Labor Code prohibited discrimination 
against union members by management, but union members claimed 
that occasional harassment continued. By October approximately 



131 



ETHIOPIA 

1,500 unions existed at the plant and factory level. These 
unions were free of state interference, but the new political 
parties especially the EPRDF have been involved in the 
formation of some unions. In the absence of official 
guidelines, TG officials have been tolerant of strikes and 
protests in the workplace. Management frequently accused the 
TG of being over indulgent with labor demands. In one such 
case, EPRDF troops responded to charges by a local labor union 
by arresting at gunpoint two midlevel managers at one of the 
capital's leading hotels; they remained under arrest on charges 
of corruption at year's end. 

Upon taking power in Eritrea, the EPLF provisional government 
similarly dissolved the ETU and EPA. On September 15, the EPLF 
provisional government published a new Labor Code which accords 
workers the right to join unions of their choice and the right 
to strike. Eritrean courts were given the power to order 
workers to delay strikes for 50 days pending negotiations. 
Should negotiations fail, unions are required to give the EPLF 
provisional government Labor Department a further 7-day notice 
before any strike. There were no strikes in Eritrea in 1991. 

b. The Right to Organize and Bargain Collectively 

In principle the Mengistu government accepted international 
conventions on collective bargaining and signed hundreds of 
individual collective bargaining agreements over the last 
decade. In practice, collective bargaining did not exist; 
wages were set by the government in the public sector and by 
employers with government oversight in the private sector. 

The 1975 Labor Code includes the right to organize and bargain 
collectively. Under the 1975 Code, wages are to be set in 
negotiations between unions and management. If no agreement 
can be reached, a disputes committee is formed, composed of two 
representatives each from the union and management and a 
committee chairman (usually a member of management). If an 
agreement still cannot be found, the dispute goes to the 
Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs for settlement. Within a 
month of taking power, the TG's Prime Minister announced that 
all collective bargaining agreements negotiated by the Mengistu 
government, frozen since 1990, were valid. Given the condition 
of the economy, there were no wage increases in state-owned 
enterprises as of late 1991. 

In Eritrea the EPLF provisional government's new Labor Code 
published in mid-September explicitly recognized collective 
bargaining and outlined an 11-step process for reaching 
agreements . 

There are no export processing zones in the country. 

c. Prohibition of Forced or Compulsory Labor 

Slavery was officially abolished in Ethiopia in 1942, but legal 
codes did not address the issue of forced or compulsory labor. 
Under Mengistu 's government, citizens were sometimes called on 
to perform certain civic obligations, including "volunteer" 
assistance in community work projects. In factories, workers 
were also expected to volunteer extra hours at no pay so that 
production quotas could be met. 

The TG's National Charter adopted in July proscribes slavery 
and involuntary servitude. Local TG officials outside of Addis 
Ababa continued to call on residents to volunteer for 



132 



ETHIOPIA 

uncompensated community work projects, such as road building 
and emergency road repair. Industries were operating at less 
than half capacity at year's end; in those state-owned 
factories still functioning, workers were still sometimes 
compelled by factory managers to "volunteer" labor in order to 
meet quotas, which could result in cash bonuses. 

In Eritrea forced and compulsory labor was barred under the 
EPLF provisional government's new Labor Code pxiblished in 
mid-September. However, there were unconfirmed reports in late 
1991 that some former Mengistu government detainees still held 
in Eritrea without charge had been put to hard labor. 

d. Minimum Age for Employment of Children 

Under the 1975 Labor Code, contract employment of children 
under the age of 14 is prohibited. Both the Mengistu 
government and the new TG appeared to respect this restriction 
in factories, shops, euid among domestic worker's. The Ministry 
of Labor and Social Affairs was active in enforcing these 
provisions in state-owned enterprises. Nevertheless, underaged 
children were frequently seen peddling and begging on city 
streets or working in the fields in rural areas throughout the 
year . 

In Eritrea the EPLF's new Labor Code published in mid-September 
raised the minimum age for employment to 18. The provisional 
government has also made education compulsory through age 18. 
It remains to be seen how effectively it will be enforced. 

e. Acceptable Conditions of Work 

The statutory minimum wage, unchanged since 1974, remained low 
and woefully insufficient to provide a decent standard of 
living for an urban worker and family. On the other hand, only 
unskilled day laborers usually receive such a low wage. In 
addition, fringe benefits not required by law (transportation, 
meals, clothing, medical care, shelter) raise the effective 
minimum wage. Low-paid workers often supplement their income 
by holding multiple jobs, with help from the extended family, 
and through subsistence farming. The Ministry of Labor and 
Social Affairs was responsible for enforcing compliance under 
both the Mengistu government and the Transitional Government. 

The 1975 Labor Code, observed by both the Mengistu government 
and the TG, establishes an 8-hour workday and a 48-hour 
workweek. The maximum legal workweek appeared to be respected 
in practice with the exception of previously noted 
uncompensated "volunteer" labor to meet factory quotas. The 
1975 Code also empowers the Ministry of Labor and Social 
Affairs "to determine protective devices" and to advise on the 
health and safety of workers. Compensation for occupational 
injuries and disabilities is mandatory. The Ministry's 
effectiveness in enforcing health and safety standards 
continues to be hampered by lack of resources. 

In Eritrea the EPLF provisional government's new Labor Code 
published in mid-September retains many provisions of the 1975 
Code, including: a very low minimum wage, an 8-hour workday 
and 48-hour workweek, and stipulations that the health and 
safety of workers be safeguarded, but the degree of enforcement 
is unknown. 



133 



GABON 



Although President Omar Bongo has ruled Gabon since 1967, 
having been reelected three times in uncontested elections. 
Internal pressures beginning in late 1989 forced him to 
acquiesce in extensive political reforms. In 1991 a new 
Constitution was promulgated which includes provisions for such 
basic freedoms as movement, association, and religion and 
explicitly abolishes the old system of single party rule. The 
new multiparty legislature, which resulted from elections held 
during the last months of 1990, grappled with the many legal 
ramifications of the new order, including complex legislative 
initiatives on public sector employment and newly created 
constitutional bodies. In the past, the National Assembly had 
no real power, and it is still dominated by the former sole 
party, the Democratic Party of Gabon (PDG), which holds a 
narrow majority. However, the newly elected Assembly includes 
deputies from nine political parties and has been able to 
confront and criticize the Government on some issues, e.g., in 
forcing extensive changes in spending priorities. The new 
Constitution limits President Bongo to one more 5-year term. 

The armed forces comprise approximately 4,000 array, navy, and 
air force personnel. Responsibility for internal security is 
shared by the gendarmerie, a paramilitary force of 2,700, and 
the national police, consisting of 2,000 troops; the police 
work with the gendarmerie to maintain law and order in 
Libreville, Port Gentil, and other provincial capitals. The 
security forces use beatings as part of the interrogation 
process. 

Gabon's relatively high per capita income ($4,165 in 1991) is 
based largely on oil revenues, but it belies the underdeveloped 
nature of the country and its economy. Although endowed with 
petroleum, manganese, uranium, and vast timber resources, Gabon 
has experienced limited agricultural and industrial development 
and imports most of its food and manufactured goods . Rain 
forests cover 85 percent of the country, and approximately 
two-thirds of the populace live in rural areas. Due to the 
precipitous fall in revenue from oil exports in the late 
1980 's, the Government has imposed austerity measures to meet 
World Bank and International Monetary Fund program criteria. 

Gabon took important steps toward a more open political system 
in 1991. With the move toward a multiparty political system, 
restrictions on freedoms of speech, press, and assembly were 
considerably relaxed. Although the opposition has limited 
access to government media, especially radio and television, 
there is a lively opposition press, consisting of a half-dozen 
weekly newspapers which are often highly critical of the 
Government. The government-controlled newspaper, L' Union, 
generally avoids direct criticism of the Government and the 
President. Despite significant progress, some human rights 
problems remain with regard to the mistreatment of prisoners 
and detainees, including the heindling of illegal aliens. 

RESPECT FOR HUMAN RIGHTS 

Section 1 Respect for the Integrity of the Person, Including 
Freedom from: 

a. Political and Other Extrajudicial Killing 

There were no known political killings or summary executions in 
1991. 



134 

GABON 

b. Disappearance 

There were no knovm cases of cibductions or disappearances 
ascribed to government security forces or any other group. 

c. Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading 
Treatment or Punishment 

Gabonese law and security enforcement officials use beatings 
and torture as part of the interrogation process of detainees 
to gain confessions. Prisoners are reportedly forced to march 
on their knees over stones; in addition, lawyers who have 
visited prisons report hearing cries of those who are being 
beaten. Prison conditions are harsh, and the main facility. 
Central Prison, has insufficient food, inadequate medical 
facilities, and poor sanitation. As a result, sickness is 
common, and prisoners have died because they had no one to 
bring them needed medicine. Violence among prisoners — in 
particular, homosexual rape — is also a problem. 

d. Arbitrary Arrest, Detention, or Exile 

Although the law, based on French jurisprudence, provides 
procedural protections against arbitrary detention, it allows 
for pretrial detention for a prolonged period. Security forces 
disregard the procedures concerning arbitrary detention, 
particularly in security cases, by detaining persons 
indefinitely without charge. There is no way of accurately 
determining the number of arbitrary detentions during the year, 
but it is thought to be as many as several dozen. However, no 
political detainees were being held at the end of 1991. 

Exile is not used as a means of political control nor as a 
sentence for convicted criminals. A number of opposition 
figures such as Pere Mba Abessole, leader of the Bucheron 
Party, have returned in recent years. The only remaining 
well-known "exile" is Pierre Mamboundou, who was convicted in 
absentia for involvement in one of the coup plots uncovered in 
late 1989 by Gabonese security forces. He resides in Senegal. 

e. Denial of Fair Public Trial 

The judicial system, modeled on that of the French, has several 
levels. The trial court (Tribunal de Premier Instance) hears 
questions of fact and law in civil, commercial, ordinary 
criminal, and administrative cases. The appellate level is 
divided into two courts, with a separate appeals court for 
criminal cases. The highest level, the Supreme Court, has 
three chambers, and the former fourth chamber, the 
Constitutional Cheimber, was recast as an independent body by 
the 1991 Constitution. Outside the normal court system, there 
is a military tribunal to handle all offenses under military 
law; a State Security Court, which is a civilian tribunal; and 
a special criminal court which deals with fraud and 
embezzlement of public funds by officials. 

The right to a fair public trial is provided for in the 
Constitution and generally has been respected in criminal 
cases, but procedural safeguards are lacking in State Security 
Court trials. In this Court, trials are open to the public, 
and defendants are represented by counsel, but appeal 
procedures to the Supreme Court are restricted to raising 
points of law. The State Security Court is a nonpermanent 
body, called into existence as the Government determines to 
hear political and security cases. It was last convoked in 



135 



GABON 

1990 to hear the coup plot cases of 1989/1990. Subsequently, 
in response to clemency appeals. President Bongo twice reduced 
the sentences of those convicted in those trials, but none had 
been released by year's end. 

Although the judiciary is susceptible to intervention by the 
executive, particularly in political or security cases, there 
was no indication that such intervention occurred in 1991. 
Reports persist that there were still some political prisoners 
held at the end of 1991, but these have not been confirmed. 

f . Arbitrary Interference with Privacy, Family, Home, or 
Correspondence 

Search warrants may be obtained after the fact but, as 
occasionally happens in cases of suspected illegal aliens, 
sometimes they are not obtained at all. There were credible 
reports that in many cases the homes of those detained were 
ransacked by security forces who confiscated personal effects. 
The Government periodically monitors communications. While the 
former ruling party does not compel party membership, there 
have been reports of government officials being fired or 
transferred for membership in opposition parties. 

Section 2 Respect for Civil Liberties, Including: 

a. Freedom of Speech and Press 

With the move toward a multiparty system, most restrictions on 
freedom of speech and press have been eliminated. While direct 
public criticism of the President previously had not been 
permitted, during the legislative election campaign and in 
subsequent political debates, Gabonese opposition leaders 
criticized the President directly and indirectly, with no 
retribution. However, opposition leaders also complained that 
the state-controlled media did not provide adecjuate access to 
opposition parties. 

A half-dozen weekly newspapers, including the government -owned 
L' Union and a range of nongovernment papers, continue to 
circulate in the capital. The President has encouraged 
journalists to point out failures of individual government 
officials or ministries and to highlight inefficiency and 
corruption. In 1991 such criticism continued and grew bolder, 
with leading opposition papers publishing extensive allegations 
of financial malfeasance by the President and his inner 
circle. As a result of a decision by Multipress, the publisher 
of L' Union and owner of the country's only high-speed rotary 
press, to demand advance payment, several papers have been 
obliged to print in Cameroon. More financially solvent 
opposition papers are printed at Multipress without any 
restrictions. All newspapers circulate freely within Gabon. 
The established media carry wire service material (mostly 
Agence France Presse) which gives the public some coverage of 
world events. There were no instances in 1991 when foreign 
publications were banned. 

Academic freedom is relatively unrestricted. A professors' 
strike over \iniversity mismanagement, lack of funds for 
research, and the deteriorating physical plant at the 
university campus in Libreville brought the 1990/91 academic 
year to a premature halt and contributed to the fall of the 
second Oye-Mba Government; security forces took no action 
against the strikers. 



136 



GABON 

b. Freedom of Peaceful Assembly and Association 

The Government grants the rights of freedom of assembly and 
association to recognized organizations, including 74 
recognized opposition political associations. Permits and 
notification of police are required for all outdoor meetings. 
The Government generally permits such meetings if they are 
organized by recognized political groups or their ancillary 
units, such as the women's, youth, and labor movements; 
cultural and entertainment impresarios; or recognized church 
groups. By law, unauthorized demonstrations are not permitted, 
but tnere were numerous unauthorized demonstrations in 1991 for 
which organizers and participants went unpunished, including a 
major May Day rally staged by the Rassemblement National des 
Bucherons (generally referred to as the Bucherons party) in 
defiance of an explicit government ban. 

c. Freedom of Religion 

There is no state religion, and the Constitution provides for 
religious freedom. Because their activities were considered by 
the Government to foster disunity, Jehovah's Witnesses and 
several small syncretistic sects were banned by presidential 
decree in 1970. The decree was renewed in 1985. As recently 
as 1987, the courts sentenced 24 Jehovah's Witnesses to short 
or suspended terms for belonging to a banned organization. The 
primary faiths are Catholic and Protestant. Muslims (including 
President Bongo) constitute less than 5 percent of the 
population. There are significant niombers of adherents to 
traditional religions. Foreign missionaries engage actively in 
evangelical and social service activities. 

d. Freedom of Movement Within the Country, Foreign 
Travel, Emigration, and Repatriation 

Movement of both Gabonese citizens and expatriates within the 
country is not formally restricted; travelers occasionally 
encounter gendarmerie control points where identity cards and 
other documents are examined. Gabonese citizens may return 
freely from abroad. The previous requirement for Gabonese 
citizens to obtain exit permits from the police was rescinded 
in June, but government employees must still obtain permission 
to travel abroad. 

There are approximately 200,000 non-Gabonese residents in 
Gabon, many of whom are from Equatorial Guinea or Cameroon. 
Immigration laws and presidential decrees promulgated in 1986 
imposed requirements for heavy financial guarantees on 
non-French and non-American expatriates working in Gabon and 
levied exit visa fees for each departure from the country. The 
gendarmerie periodically detain undocumented aliens who are 
then placed in a holding camp under harsh conditions. Most of 
the detainees are released after paying fines or bribes. An 
increasing number of illegal immigrants are being deported to 
demonstrate the Government's commitment to preserving 
employment preferences for Gabonese. 

The Government encourages, but does not force, "regroupment" 
(voluntary consolidation of small rural communities into larger 
villages along a road) by improving the delivery of public 
services such as water, electricity, and schooling in the 
larger villages. 



137 



GABON 

Section 3 Respect for Political Rights: The Right of Citizens 
to Change Their Government 

The 1991 Constitution, promulgated in March following extensive 
National Assembly debate, provides formal guarantees of this 
right, including the right to organize and campaign in the 
political arena. There are now a wide reinge of parties and a 
functioning multiparty National Assembly. 

Nonetheless, the former single party, the Democratic Party of 
Gabon (PDG) , remains the principal political party in Gabon, 
and it still dominates the Government. Its leading role is due 
to its established strength in organization and infrastructure, 
to its close ties with the President, formerly the Secretary 
General of the PDG, and to the splintering and inexperience of 
the opposition. There have been continuing opposition charges 
of ballot rigging by the Government or PDG, but the 1990 
irregularities appeared in part to have been tied to the 
disorganized election process. In the end, the PDG managed to 
retain a narrow majority in the final makeup of the National 
Assembly, with 59 of the 120 seats going to PDG members and 3 
to PDG sympathizers. The remaining 58 seats are distributed 
among eight opposition parties. 

President Bongo has been reelected three times to 7-year terms 
in uncontested elections, most recently in 1986. The new 
Constitution provides for a limit of two 5-year presidential 
terms. The National Conference of 1990 determined that for the 
purpose of the new Constitution, the President's current term 
would be considered his first; thus, he is eligible to stand in 
1993 for a final term and is widely expected to do so. In 
sharp contrast to the past, however, several candidates have 
indicated they plan to run against President Bongo. 

Under Gabon's nascent parliamentary system, the President's 
Prime Minister is head of government and must be confirmed by 
the National Assembly. Since the National Conference, there 
have been three governments, each under the Prime Ministership 
of Casimir Oye-Mba, but with different ministerial rosters. 
The changes occurred when Mr. Oye-Mba submitted his 
Government's resignation in response to public pressure; in the 
first instance, the completion of the legislative elections 
required that the new Government reflect the power balance 
resulting from the controversial first round of elections. In 
the second, a boycott of the legislature by much of the 
opposition and festering problems in the educational sector 
forced the Government to seek a fresh start. 

Section 4 Governmental Attitude Regarding International and 

Nongovernmental Investigation of Alleged Violations 
of Htunan Rights 

A number of local human rights groups, including an affiliate 
of Amnesty International, operate freely in the country. While 
their actions have been limited by inexperience and poor 
organization, they have influenced government policy, most 
notably in the case of a Moroccan dissident writer expelled by 
France to Gabon. Local rights groups published communiques in 
the government-controlled press and held a series of meetings 
with President Bongo to urge him to ensure the Moroccan's 
personal security and allow him full liberty of movement. 
Since June the Minister of Scientific Research has been charged 
with human rights and relations with the legislature. The 
Government has not impeded investigation by international human 



138 



GABON 

rights groups or blocked the activities of human rights 
observers. 

Section 5 Discrimination Based on Race, Sex, Religion, 
Language, or Social Status 

The 1991 Constitution forbids discrimination based on national 
origin, race, gender, or opinion. Gabon's relative prosperity 
has enabled the Government to extend health and social security 
benefits to all its people, regardless of tribal affiliation or 
region. There were no significant ethnic, racial, religious, 
or social groups that suffered discrimination in 1991. 

In practice, women do face discrimination. However, government 
and party policies are supportive of expanding opportunities 
for women, and urban women in particular are moving 
increasingly into the professions, taking advantage of improved 
educational opportunities, including access to technical 
training institutions. At the primary school level, there is 
universal access for both girls and boys. However, at the 
secondary level, only 22 percent of females, as opposed to 31 
percent of males, are enrolled in school. 

In rural Gabon, women still fill largely traditional roles 
built around family and village, e.g., hauling water, tending 
fields. The gradual introduction of piped-in water and of 
electricity has had the effect of gradually improving living 
standards for rural women. Legal rights of rural women are 
largely governed by tribal tradition, while in the urban 
sector, women's rights are patterned on French law. While all 
women's rights are protected by the law, traditional practice, 
which prevails in rural areas, assigns most of the hard work — 
tending fields, preparing meals, child care — to women while 
depriving them of formal authority in the village context. 

According to medical practitioners, violence against women, 
including wife beating, occurs, but the extent of the problem 
is not known. Incidents of violence against women are reported 
in the media from time to time and invariably are the outgrowth 
of domestic disputes or are related to violence against 
prostitutes. Cases of violence against women rarely come 
before the courts. In the absence of statistics on the number 
of incidents versus the number of court cases, this observation 
is based on the relative weight given cases of violence against 
women in news accounts. Such reports uniformly treat these 
incidents as contemptible vestiges of a brutal past. Several 
women's rights groups and professional associations have been 
formed to address these concerns . 

Section 6 Worker Rights 

a. The Right of Association 

Under the new Constitution, the former monopoly of the 
government-sponsored Labor Confederation of Gabon (COSYGA) has 
been abolished. A new labor code, which would repeal the trade 
union solidarity tax and other legislative restrictions on 
trade union pluralism, is in the drafting stage but had not 
been presented to the National Assembly by year's end. 

In 1991 the trend continued toward freely formed, primarily 
company-based (as opposed to industrywide) unions, which have 
staged wildcat strikes aimed at forcing management to address 
concerns of pay, benefits, and working conditions. 



139 



GABON 

A strike at the government-run printing press crippled the 
print media for 2 weeks, during which none of Gabon's 
newspapers appeared on the stands. By the same token, strikes 
by public health workers and primary and secondary school 
teachers forced the Government to make significant concessions 
on construction of .new facilities. In the private sector, 
wildcat strikes by workers in state-run and other companies 
have resulted in pay raises, benefit improvements, and, in some 
cases, replacement of unpopular managers. 

Under Gabonese law, strikes are illegal if they occur before 
compulsory arbitration remedies prescribed under the 1978 Labor 
Code have been exhausted, but the Government informed the 
International Labor Organization (ILO) Conference in June that 
a draft law on the right to strike has been examined by the 
Government and could be incorporated in the revised labor 
code. None of the strikers in the cited cases was the object 
of arrest or other disciplinary action. COSYGA, whose future 
role in Gabonese labor /management relations is unclear at 
present, has represented Gabonese workers at the ILO and has 
maintained limited contacts with a variety of national trade 
centers. 

b. The Right to Organize and Bargain Collectively 

Formally, unions in each sector negotiate with management over 
specific pay scales, working conditions, and benefits 
applicable to their industry. Agreements reached between labor 
and management in each sector also apply to nonunion and 
expatriate labor. According to the Labor Code, workers may 
individually or collectively take complaints of code violations 
to arbitration and may appeal to labor and national courts. 
Among the changes in the labor law urged by the ILO is a 
provision protecting workers against antiunion discrimination. 
There are no export processing zones in Gabon. 

c. Prohibition of Forced or Compulsory Labor 

Forced labor is prohibited by law and is not practiced, 
although technical violations of the conventions on forced 
labor have been criticized by the ILO. 

d. Minimum Age for Employment of Children 

No one below the age of 16 may work without the authorization 
of the Ministries of Labor, Public Health, and Education, which 
rigorously enforce this provision. Such permission is granted 
rarely, and few employees in the modern wage sector are below 
the age of 18. Children at younger ages are involved in 
traditional family farm labor in rural areas. 

e. Acceptable Conditions of Work 

The 1978 Labor Code and the 1982 General Convention of Labor 
govern working conditions and benefits for all sectors. Labor 
legislation provides broad protection to workers. 
Representatives of labor, management, and government meet 
annually to agree on minimum wage rates, which are determined 
within guidelines provided by the Government. The Gabonese 
minimum wage is determined annually pursuant to Articles 94 and 
95 of the Labor Code of 1978. These articles designate an 
interagency group to study the status of the economy and 
recommend a minimum wage for the coming year to the President. 
The President then issues a decree, pursuant to Article 88 of 
the Code, setting the minimum wage. The current minimum wc^e 



140 



GABON 

for unskilled labor is sufficient to provide a decent living 
for workers and their families. Work over 40 hours per week 
must be compensated with overtime, and the workweek must 
include a minimum rest period of 48 consecutive hours. 

The Labor Code provides for occupational health and safety 
standards to be established by decree of the Minister of 
Health. Adherence to these standards, which are generally 
adapted from the French model, varies greatly and usually 
reflects company policy rather than governmental enforcement 
efforts. Article 134 of the Labor Code assigns enforcement of 
its health and safety provisions to the Office of the Inspector 
of Labor (Inspecteur du Travail) of the Ministry of Labor. 



141 



THE GAMBIA 



The Gambia is a parliamentary democracy with an elected 
president and legislature. Except for a coup attempt in 1981, 
The Gambia has had a history of political stability under the 
leadership of its only President since independence in 1965, 
Sir Dawda Jawara. His ruling People's Progressive Party (PPP) 
has dominated the unicameral Parliament, but several opposition 
parties participate in the political process, including two 
parties formed in 1986. 

The Gambia has a small army with an attached naval unit 
organized and trained by British officers. Its gendarmerie 
forces, formerly headed by Senegalese officers, are now under 
the control of, and responsive to, Gambian civilian leadership. 

The Gambia's estimated population of 784,000 consists largely 
of subsistence farmers growing rice and groundnuts (peanuts), 
the country's primary export crop. In 1991 The Gambia 
continued its stringent economic reform program in cooperation 
with the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank. 

The Gambia has made particular efforts to promote observance of 
human rights, which are constitutionally protected and 
generally observed in practice. In 1991 the death of a person 
in police custody led to a swift investigation, arrests, and 
trials of police officials. 

RESPECT FOR HUMAN RIGHTS 

Section 1 Respect for the Integrity of the Person, Including 
Freedom from: 

a. Political and Other Extrajudicial Killing 

There were no reported political killings. However, on August 
2, a longtime Senegalese resident in The Gambia, Momodou 
Jarjue, was detained on suspicion of theft by three Criminal 
Investigation Division (CID) officers of the Gambian police. 
According to witnesses, the CID officers beat Jarjue 
continuously through the night and denied him food, water, and 
medical attention. Jarjue died the next morning. 

The police immediately began an investigation, personally 
directed by the Minister of the Interior and the new Inspector 
General of Police, and the three CID officers were detained by 
the Gambian gendarmerie. In addition officials of the African 
Centre for Democracy and Human Rights Studies conducted an 
independent investigation of the incident and filed their 
report with the Attorney General's office. Late in August the 
police completed their investigation, and subsequently the 
Attorney General annoionced that the three CID officers would be 
arraigned before the Supreme Court and charged with murder and 
assault. The trial began on October 1 and was continuing at 
year's end, with the press providing full coverage of the 
proceedings. 

b. Disappearance 

There were no reports of disappearance. 

c. Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading 
Treatment or Punishment 

The Constitution prohibits torture and other cruel, inhuman, 
and degrading punishment. Except for the Jarjue case (Section 



142 



THE GAMBIA 

l.a.), there were no known instances of torture or mistreatment 
of detainees in 1991. 

Prison conditions are severe, and in the past there have been 
occasional reports of mistreatment of prisoners. After the 
death of several inmates in 1988 due to inadequate diet, a 
presidential commission on prison conditions investigated the 
occurrence and its recommendations led to prison reforms. 
There have been no further reports of such incidents since the 
reforms. The Government allows prison visits by local Red 
Cross representatives and by close family members. 

d. Arbitrary Arrest, Detention, or Exile 

Based on British legal practice, we 11 -developed constitutional 
and legal procedures govern the arrest, detention, and trial of 
persons accused of crimes. Under these procedures, a detained 
person must be brought to trial within 1 week of arrest. This 
waiting period, however, may be extended twice, making 21 days 
the maximum period of detention before trial. In fact, due to 
overcrowded court schedules, the detention period can be much 
longer . 

There were no political detainees being held at the end of 
1991. There are some self-exiled opposition elements who would 
be arrested for suspected involvement in the 1981 coup attempt 
if they returned to The Gambia, e.g., the alleged leader of the 
plot, Kukoi Samba Sanyang. 

In February President Jawara amnestied the last 35 people 
imprisoned for criminal convictions relating to the 1981 coup 
attempt. Two of the recipients had been convicted of high 
treason and condemned to death. 

e. Denial of Fair Public Trial 

There are three kinds of law in The Gambia: general, Shari'a 
(Islamic), and customary law. Shari'a law, governing Muslims, 
is observed in marriage and divorce proceedings. Customary law 
covers marriage and divorce for non-Muslims, inheritance, land 
tenure and utilization, local tribal government, and all other 
traditional civil and social relations. General law, based on 
English statutes and modified to suit the Gambian context, 
governs criminal cases and trials and most organized business 
practices. If there were a conflict between general law and 
Shari'a, general law would prevail. 

The Constitution provides criminal defendants with the 
traditional rights of the English legal system, such as 
presumption of innocence, the right of the accused to be 
informed promptly of the charges, and the right to a public 
trial. If released on bail, an accused person may face charges 
indefinitely, since there is no maximum time limit for 
completing the investigation and bringing the case to trial. 
Appeals normally proceed from the Supreme (trial) Court to the 
Court of Appeals, the country's highest tribunal. 

Judges are appointed by the Government, but the judiciary 
operates independently and is free of government interference. 
Because of the shortage of legal professionals in The Gambia, 
the legal system is staffed in part by judges and prosecuting 
and defense attorneys from other English-speaking countries 
having the same basic legal system as The Gambia. 



143 



THE GAMBIA 

In 1988 a journalist, Sana Manneh, accused four cabinet 
ministers of corruption, for which he was subsequently tried in 
Magistrate's Court on charges of libeling three of them. In 
that trial he was acquitted on two counts and convicted of the 
third. The Government appealed the decision to the Supreme 
Court, which overturned the acquittals. Manneh then appealed 
to the Court of Appeal (The Gambia's highest court), which, 
based on a technicality, reversed the Supreme Court's ruling on 
December 5. The prosecution failed to give oral notice of its 
intent to appeal after the announcement of the Magistrate 
Court's judgment, as prescribed by Gambian law. 

f . Arbitrary Interference with Privacy, Family, Home, or 
Correspondence 

The Constitution provides guarantees, which are respected in 
practice, against arbitrary search of person and property. It 
does permit a search to which a suspect submits voluntarily or 
if it is reasonably required in the interest of national 
defense or public welfare. Under the Gambian criminal code, 
search warrants based on probable cause are issued by 
magistrates upon application by the police. The code also 
specifies that police may conduct a search of a private 
residence while a crime is in progress. There are a few 
checkpoints in the country where the police and military 
periodically stop and search drivers and vehicles. 

The rights of family are of great importance in The Gambia's 
conservative Muslim society. Marriage, the raising of 
children, and religious instruction are regulated by a 
combination of personal preference and ethnic and religious 
tradition. The Government does not normally intrude in family 
matters. There is no effort to censor or control personal 
correspondence or communications. 

Section 2 Respect for Civil Liberties, Including: 

a. Freedom of Speech and Press 

The Constitution provides for freedom of speech and press. 
While opposition parties have been relatively inactive since 
the 1987 elections, members freely express their opinions about 
the Government and ruling party. 

The Government does not attempt to censor published materials, 
whether they originate within or outside the country. In 
practical terms. The Gambia, with its small, mainly rural, 
largely illiterate, multilingual population, does not support 
an active press, though this is slowly changing. The 
Government and the PPP have newspapers which are published on a 
biweekly or monthly basis. 

There are several independent, intermittently published, 
mimeographed newssheets and, more recently, one monthly 
newsmagazine. Both the opposition and the independent press 
are openly critical of the Government. There is, however, some 
degree of self-censorship in the government-owned media, which 
exercises restraint in reporting criticism of the Government. 
During the Manneh libel trial. Radio Gambia and the official 
press ceased coverage after the first week of the trial. 

There is no television in The Gambia, although Senegalese 
broadcasts can be received. The Government dominates the media 
through Radio Gambia. Two commercial radio stations, one of 
which opened in 1991, primarily broadcast music. Foreign 



144 



THE GAMBIA 

magazines and newspapers are available in The capital. There 
is no university in The Gambia. 

During 1991, Parliament passed the National Press Council Act, 
which establishes a council to oversee the activities of 
journalists. The Act originated in response to journalists' 
requests for legislation governing press affairs. The council 
will be required to prepare a code of conduct and will have the 
power to judge journalists with respect to breaches of this 
code, reprimand them if the council rules against them, and 
impose fines. While the President assented to the bill on 
June 27, it has not been published; therefore it is not yet law. 

b. Freedom of Peaceful Assembly and Association 

In general, there is no interference with the freedom of 
assembly and association which is provided for in the 
Constitution. The Government almost always grants permits for 
peaceful assembly but requires that these meetings be open to 
the public. Permits for assembly are issued by the police and 
are not denied for political reasons. The permits regulate 
times, places, use of loudspeakers, and the authority to block 
traffic for a parade. The only banned organization in the 
Gambia is the Movement for Justice in Africa, which was 
suspected of involvement in the 1981 coup attempt. The law has 
been amended so that any future bans would be by judicial 
decision rather than a presidential decree. The State must now 
apply to a court for a banning order, citing specific grounds 
for the request. There were no requests to ban any 
organization in 1991. 

c. Freedom of Religion 

The constitutional provisions of freedom of conscience, 
thought, and religion are observed in practice. The State is 
secular, although Muslims constitute over 90 percent of the 
population. The schools provide instruction in the Koran for 
Muslim students. Christians, both Catholic and Protestant, 
freely practice their religion. There is a small Baha'i 
community in Banjul. Missionaries are permitted to carry on 
openly and freely their various mission-related activities. 

d. Freedom of Movement Within the Country, Foreign 
Travel, Emigration, and Repatriation 

The Constitution provides for freedom of movement, subject to 
conditions protecting public safety, health, and morals. There 
is no restriction on freedom of emigration or freedom of 
return. Because of historic and ethnic ties with the 
inhabitants of Senegal, Guinea-Bissau, Mali, Sierra Leone, and 
Mauritania, people tend to move freely across borders, which 
are poorly marked and difficult to police. 

The population of Liberian refugees registered in The Gambia 
increased by almost 150 percent from 1990 to 1991. At the end 
of 1991, approximately 180 Liber ians living in The Gambia were 
registered with the United Nations High Commissioner for 
Refugees (UNHCR) . An even larger number are unregistered. The 
UNHCR does not have an assistance program in The Gambia. It 
has transported interested Liberians unable to receive help 
through family or friends to countries where UNHCR relief 
programs are ongoing. Since the settlement of the Casamance 
insurgency in southern Senegal, many of the Casamancais 
refugees who had settled in The Gambia to escape the turmoil 
have begun to return home. While there were a reported 326 



145 



THE GAMBIA 

Senegalese refugees in The Gambia, the number could well have 
been higher during the conflict given the fluid movements 
across The Gambia-Senegal border. Senegalese refugees in The 
Gambia were not receiving international assistance. 

Late in 1990, a human rights group reported that the Gambian 
authorities had forcibly repatriated 10 Casamancais (Senegalese 
nationals) from The Gambia to Senegal. The group claimed that 
their return to Senegal placed them in danger of torture and 
death at the hands of Senegalese security forces. The 
Government responded that the Senegalese in question had not 
requested asylum in The Gambia and had entered the country 
illegally, so they were deported by Gambian immigration 
officials. The Government stressed that it was well aware of 
its obligations under the Geneva Convention on the Status of 
Refugees . 

Section 3 Respect for Political Rights: The Right of Citizens 
to Change Their Government 

Citizens have the right to change their government through 
peaceful means. The President and the Members of Parliament 
are popularly elected, as are the district councils and the 
chiefs, who exercise traditional authority in the villages and 
compounds. Presidential and parliamentary elections are held 
every 5 years. Citizens must be at least 18 years of age to 
vote. Balloting is secret, and measures are employed to assure 
that illiterate voters understand the choices and voting 
procedure. 

A functioning multiparty system exists, even though the 
People's Progressive Party under the leadership of President 
Jawara has been in power since independence. The principal 
opposition party, the National Convention Party (NCP) , contests 
both national and district elections. In the March 1987 
presidential and parliamentary elections, campaigning was 
vigorous, active, and open to all parties. The ruling PPP won 
by an overwhelming majority and now holds 31 of 36 elective 
seats in the Parliament. The NCP was the only opposition party 
to win seats. 

Section 4 Governmental Attitude Regarding International and 

Nongovernmental Investigation of Alleged Violations 
of Human Rights 

The Government is responsive to charges of human rights 
violations and has established the African Centre for Democracy 
and Human Rights Studies to promote greater respect for human 
rights in Africa through research into and documentation of 
human rights problems and through workshops and conferences. 
It permits visits of international human rights organizations 
to observe the condition of detainees and the trial process. 
Early in 1991, the United Nations Human Rights Commission 
(UNHRC) made a routine investigatory stop in The Gambia. The 
Gambia is an active member of the UNHRC and of the Organization 
of African Unity's (OAU) Commission on Human and Peoples' 
Rights. It took the initiative in persuading the OAU to locate 
the OAU Commission, which opened in June 1989, in Banjul. In 
May the African Centre for Democracy and Human Rights Studies 
hosted a human rights training conference for upper level 
magistrates from Francophone African countries. 



146 



THE GAMBIA 

Section 5 Discrimination Based on Race, Sex, Religion, 
Language, or Social Status 

The Constitution states that all persons in The Gambia are 
entitled to "fundamental rights and freedoms" regardless of 
"race, place of origin, political opinions, colour, creed, or 
sex." There is no officially sanctioned discrimination based 
on race, sex, religion, language, or social status. The 
Gambian population is overwhelmingly Muslim and rural, with 85 
percent living in villages, and there is considerable emphasis 
on the collective aspects of rights and privileges. There is 
no evidence of discrimination in employment, education, or in 
other areas of Gambian life on religious grounds. 

Traditional views, especially about the role of women in 
society, are changing, but very slowly. Marriages are still 
most often arranged, and Muslim tradition allows for polygamy. 
Women are disadvantaged educationally, with females comprising 
about one-third of the students in primary school, and 
one-quarter of the high school students. 

Domestic violence occurs, and female circumcision is practiced, 
reinforced by traditional beliefs. Until recently, the 
Government has been passive in attempting to counter these 
practices. However, the Women's Bureau in the Office of the 
President conducts an ongoing campaign in both the rural and 
urban areas to make women aware of their legal rights in 
respect of divorce and custody of children, property matters, 
and in cases of assault. The Bureau holds workshops on female 
circumcision to inform women of its negative effects and to 
discuss the religious and traditional ties to the practice. It 
also publishes a quarterly magazine on women's issues, which it 
distributes throughout the country. The Women's Bureau 
conducted a study in 1990 of women's rights, including specific 
(juestions on domestic violence, but data from this study had 
not been released by the end of 1991. 

To reinforce the efforts of the Women's Bureau, the World Bank, 
in conjunction with several other donors, initiated the Women 
In Development project in October 1990. This project will run 
for 6 years with the objective of improving the health and 
income generation capacities of Gambian women. 

Section 6 Worker Rights 

a. The Right of Association 

In October 1990, the Government passed the Labor Act of 1990, 
the first labor act since independence, which applies to all 
workers except civil servants. The Act specifies that workers 
are free to form associations, including trade unions, and 
provides for their registration with the Government. Police 
officers and the military are specifically prohibited from 
forming unions and from going on strike. Members of the civil 
service can neither form unions nor strike. 

The Labor Act of 1990 authorizes strikes, but it specifies that 
a union must give the Commissioner of Labor 14 days' written 
notice before beginning an industrial action (28 days for 
essential services). Furthermore, upon application by an 
employer to the Supreme Court, that body may prohibit an 
industrial action which is ruled to be in pursuit of a 
political objective, or an action which is in breach of a 
collectively agreed procedure for the settlement of industrial 
disputes that has not been exhausted. Because of these 



147 



THE GAMBIA , 

provisions, government conciliation efforts, and the poor 
bargaining strength of the unions, few strikes actually occur. 
The last strike was that of the Bakers' Association in August 
1990, which demanded (successfully) an increase in the 
controlled price of bread. 

Less than 20 percent of the work "force is engaged in the modern 
wage sector of the economy, where unions are normally active. 
The Gambian Workers' Confederation (GWC) and the Gambian 
Workers Union (GWU) are the two main independent and competing 
umbrella organizations, and both are recognized by, and have a 
good working relationship with, the Government. Unions 
exercise the right to affiliate internationally and there are 
no restrictions on workers' ability to participate in 
international forums. 

b. The Right to Organize and Bargain Collectively 

The Labor Act of 1990 provides workers the right to organize 
and bargain collectively. Although trade unions are small and 
fragmented, collective bargaining does take place. The Labor 
Department registers the collective bargaining agreements 
reached between the unions and management. The Act also sets 
minimum standards for contracts in the areas of hiring, 
training, terms of employment, wages, and termination of 
employment. The Act states that "any term of a contract of 
employment prohibiting an employee from becoming or remaining a 
member of any trade union or other organization representing 
workers. . .shall be null and void." Otherwise, the Government 
does not interfere in the bargaining process. There are no 
export processing zones. 

c. Prohibition of Forced or Compulsory Labor 

The Criminal Code prohibits compulsory labor, and it is not 
practiced in The Gambia. 

d. Minimum Age for Employment of Children 

The official minimvim age for employment is 18. There is no 
compulsory education legislation and, because of the paucity of 
secondary school opportunities, most children complete their 
formal education by age 14 and informally enter the work 
force. The Labor Commissioner is charged with receiving 
employee labor cards, which include a person's age, but 
enforcement inspections rarely take place for lack of funding 
and inspectors. Control of child labor does not apply to 
customary chores on family farms or street trading. 

e. Acceptable Conditions of Work 

By law minimum wages and hours of work are determined by joint 
industrial councils (commerce, artisans, transport, the port 
industry, agriculture, and fisheries), which have 
representation from employees, employers, and government. 
These minimvim wages do not provide for a decent standard of 
living. Moreover, only 20 percent of the labor force is 
covered by minimum wage legislation, the remainder being 
privately employed, chiefly in agriculture. Most Gambians do 
not live on one worker's earnings and rely on the extended 
family system, usually including some subsistence farming. 

The maximvmi legal workweek is 48 hours within a period not to 
exceed 6 consecutive days. Allowance is made for half-hour 
lunch breaks. For the private sector, there are four 8-hour 



50-726 - 92 - 6 



148 



THE GAMBIA 



days with half days on Fridays and Saturdays, making a 40-hour 
workweek. Government employees are entitled to 1 month's paid 
leave after 1 year of service; private sector employees receive 
between 14 and 30 days of paid annual leave, depending on their 
length of service. 

The Labor Act provides a list of occupational categories and 
specifies safety equipment that an employer must supply to 
employees working in these categories. Under the Factory Act, 
the Minister of Labor is given authority to regulate factory 
health and safety, accident prevention, and dangerous trades 
and to appoint inspectors to ensure compliance. However, this 
system is less than fully satisfactory because of a shortage of 
inspectors . 



149 



GHANA 



Ghana is governed by the Provisional National Defense Council 
(PNDC) under the chairmanship of Flight Lieutenant Jerry John 
Rawlings who seized power from an elected government on 
December 31, 1981, and suspended the Constitution. Under the 
establishment proclamation of January 11, 1982, the PNDC 
exercises "all powers of government." In addition to Chairman 
Rawlings, the PNDC consists of eight members, of whom two are 
serving military officers and six are civilians. The executive 
consists of ministries headed by secretaries, who together 
constitute a committee of secretaries, chaired by a PNDC 
member, that drafts laws for referral to the PNDC for final 
consideration and approval. All senior national, regional, and 
district officials are appointed by the PNDC. 

In 1991, facing mounting public pressures for reform. Chairman 
Rawlings announced various, carefully controlled steps in the 
process of returning the country to constitutional rule, 
including the lifting of the ban on politics following a 
referendum on a new constitution. These steps included the 
formation of a constitutional drafting committee, which 
prepared a draft document by the end of July, and a 
Consultative Assembly composed of 260 members to debate and 
redraft a new constitution, a task it was unable to finish by 
December 31. At year's end, the PNDC announced that the 
constitutional referendum would still be held in April 1992 and 
that presidential and parliamentary elections, to which 
international observers would be invited, would take place 
before the end of 1992. 

The several security organizations report to various 
departments of government, but all come under the control of 
the PNDC. Most security cases of a political nature are 
handled by the Bureau of National Investigation (BNI). All 
security agencies report to the PNDC member for foreign affairs 
and national security. There have been occasional instances of 
police brutality. 

Although Ghana is attempting to rebuild its industrial base 
after years of economic mismanagement, more than 60 percent of 
the population still draws its livelihood from agriculture. 
Cocoa and cocoa products provide more than half of export 
revenues. Gold, timber, and diamonds are also produced and 
exported. Annual economic growth has averaged 5 to 6 percent 
since the inception of an economic recovery program in 1983. 

Human rights remained circumscribed in Ghana, but the situation 
improved in 1991, with Ghanaians speaking out on political 
issues as never before under the PNDC. The fragility of this 
progress was demonstrated by the arrests late in 1991 of 
several opposition leaders for expressing their opinions. 
Independent newspapers became outspokenly critical of the PNDC, 
and government opponents voiced their opinions in seminars, 
press conferences, speeches, and press releases. Various 
social and "public interest" organizations fronting for the 
still banned political parties sprang up during the year. They 
expressed dissatisfaction with the PNDC's control over the 
reform process. In September they formed, with the Movement 
for Freedom and Justice (MFJ) , the Coordinating Committee of 
Democratic Forces (CCDF) to issue statements on behalf of all 
opposition groups. However, there continued to be restrictions 
on such basic rights as freedom of speech, press, assembly, and 
religion; the right of citizens to change their government; and 
legal due process. Summary arrest and detention were 



150 



GHANA 

continuing problems, with many instances of incarceration 
without formal charges . 

RESPECT FOR HUMAN RIGHTS 

Section 1 Respect for the Integrity of the Person, Including 
Freedom from: 

a. Political and other Extrajudicial Killing 

There were no reports of politically motivated or other 
extrajudicial killings. 

b. Disappearance 

Similarly, no politically motivated disappearances were 
reported. 

c. Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading 
Treatment or Punishment 

There were occasional credible reports of mistreatment of 
prisoners, such as keeping them in isolation for long periods 
and in dark, small cells without clothes or proper beds. 
Prisons in Ghana are antiquated and seriously overcrowded, and 
conditions are harsh. From time to time, the PNDC has commuted 
the sentences of ill or aged prisoners. The most recent 
example was in January 1992 when the PNDC granted amnesty to 
roughly 1,000 prisoners. 

There are occasional reports of excessive police force, 
especially during arrests. In May a demonstrator calling for 
the resignation of the PNDC was allegedly beaten by police. In 
December an opposition leader was arrested for allegedly coming 
to his feet tardily during the playing of the national anthem 
and entrance of the paramount chief. He was "drilled" twice a 
day in how to show respect for the flag and reportedly had his 
head shaved with a broken bottle, although upon his release he 
denied being tortured. 

d. Arbitrary Arrest, Detention, or Exile 

The Criminal Code provides minimal legal protection against 
arbitrary arrest and detention. Although accused persons have 
the right to be charged formally within 48 hours of detention, 
the court can set excessive bail or refuse to release persons 
on bail and instead remand them without charge for an 
indefinite period, subject to weekly review by judicial 
authorities. The only crimes for which, by statute, there is 
no bail are murder and subversion. PNDC Law 4 (preventive 
custody law of 1982) provides for indefinite detention without 
trial if the PNDC determines it is in the interest of national 
security. A 1984 law prevents any judicial inquiry into the 
grounds for detention under PNDC Law 4. Ghanaian security 
forces occasionally take persons into custody, with or without 
warrants, and hold them incommunicado for extended periods of 
time, with no legal recourse available to the detainee. The 
threat of such treatment serves as a deterrent to political or 
other opposition activities. 

Businessmen suspected of illegal activities have been arrested 
and incarcerated while the Government undertook 
investigations. Lebanese and other resident foreign 
businessmen have been jailed and held for extended periods 
without formal charges and without trial. In some cases. 



151 



GHANA 

incarcerated businessmen have been released without any trial 
after paying a sum, informally deemed to be a suitable 
reparation, to the National Investigation Committee. In 1990 a 
naturalized American citizen of Ghanaian origin was held 
without charge and eventually released in August 1991 after 
repeated high-level U.S. representations. 

The exact number of long-term political prisoners and detainees 
at the end of 1991 was unknown; the best estimates indicate 50 
to 90. The Movement for Freedom and Justice (MFJ), a movement 
organized to provide a forum for the banned political parties 
to present their views on the return to constitutional rule and 
human rights issues, and several international human rights 
groups published lists during 1991. The MFJ claims that there 
are others in detention whose names it does not know. The PNDC 
often detains for several months Ghanaians who have been 
repatriated to Ghana after having been denied political asylum 
in Western countries. In addition, persons are regularly 
detained for a few days to a few weeks for a variety of reasons 
and then released. 

It is difficult to determine how many of the 50 to 90 long-term 
detainees are political detainees. The Government claims that 
28 are held on criminal charges and 36 in connection with coup 
attempts. All of them have been, and are being, denied the 
right to a speedy, fair, and public trial. The Government 
gives no indication that it is prepared to bring them to trial. 

The Government does not practice forced exile. In July it 
offered limited amnesty to voluntary exiles, excluding those 
convicted of any criminal offense, wanted by the police for a 
criminal offense, or under sentence of death by any court or 
tribunal in Ghana. In recent years, the PNDC has also quietly 
encouraged Ghanaians, including dissidents, with valuable 
skills who are living abroad to return; in some cases, the 
Government has offered amnesty. Some former government and 
PNDC officials have returned and resumed careers outside 
politics, apparently without difficulties. 

e. Denial of Fair Public Trial 

Three court systems exist in Ghana. In the "prerevolutionary" 
court system, traditional legal safeguards are based on British 
legal practices. Trials are public, and defendants have a 
right to be present, to be represented by an attorney, and to 
present evidence and cross-examine witnesses. This system 
includes high courts, appeals courts, and the Supreme Court 
headed by a Chief Justice. There are limitations, however, in 
the independence of these courts. In the past, the PNDC has 
summarily dismissed judges, thereby warning them that they 
serve at the PNDC's sufferance. In 1989 the Government 
reconstituted the judicial council but confined it to an 
advisory role for judicial appointments and disciplinary 
matters. The judiciary is still not independent. 

A separate public tribunal system at the national and regional 
levels was set up by the PNDC in 1982 to bypass the regular 
court system and speed up the judicial process by restricting 
the procedural rights of defendants. The public tribunals 
depend largely on judges with little or no legal experience, 
and they shortcut legal safeguards and due process to provide 
"rough and ready" decisions, particularly in criminal cases. 
This system includes the Office of Revenue Commissioners, the 
National Investigations Committee (which, established by PNDC 
Law 2, has the power to investigate virtually any allegation 



152 



GHANA 

referred to it by the PNDC) , the Special Military Tribunal, and 
the Public Tribunals Board. 

The PNDC normally avoids bringing political and security cases 
to trial, preferring to keep suspected opponents in indefinite 
detention. However, if cases come to trial, they are heard by 
public tribunals. PNDC Law 24 empowers public tribunals to 
impose the death penalty for any crime specified a capital 
offense by the PNDC or if the tribunal determines that it is 
merited in a particular case, even if the crime is not 
punishable by the death penalty under regular statutes. There 
are no known instances of this law being used. No appeals were 
permitted until 1985, when the National Appeals Tribunal was 
created. The Ghana Bar Association has elected not to practice 
before the public tribunals and currently has a court case 
pending which hinges on its opposition to the tribunals. 

The Chieftaincy Act of 1971 gives the village and other 
traditional chiefs powers in local matters, including authority 
to enforce customary tribal laws on such matters as divorce, 
child-custody, and property disputes. 

f. Arbitrary Interference with Privacy, Family, Home, or 
Correspondence 

Citizens engaged in activity deemed objectionable by the 
Government are subject to interference with regatd to private 
conduct, including monitoring of telephones and mail. There is 
no recourse if a government agency wiretaps or interferes with 
private correspondence. In past years, forced entry into homes 
has been reported in connection with security investigations. 

In 1990 the PNDC began redefining the role of the local 
Committees for the Defense of the Revolution (CDR's), which 
previously functioned as neighborhood watch committees and 
reported individual political behavior to the Government. 
Various PNDC officials have called on the CDR's and the Civil 
Defense Organizations (CDO's) to exercise restraint during the 
transition to constitutional rule. However, there continue to 
be credible reports of CDR interference in private and tribal 
matters . 

Section 2 Respect for Civil Liberties, Including: 

a. Freedom of Speech and Press 

Freedom of speech and the press remain restricted by certain 
laws. However, the PNDC has allowed a considerable relaxation 
in the enforcement of these laws. Several newspapers have 
sprung up and these, plus some established independent papers, 
have been outspoken in their criticism of the PNDC. Also, 
organizations such as the Ghana Bar Association, the MFJ, the 
Trade Union Congress (TUC), the National Union of Ghanaian 
Students (NUGS), and others have been equally outspoken in 
their criticism of the Government. However, arrests late in 
the year of a newspaper editor and two opposition figures 
showed that there are still limits on freedom of expression. 

The Government owns the radio and television stations and the 
two principal daily newspapers. Reporting in the official 
media accentuates the positive aspects of government policies 
but also covers selected instances of corruption and 
mismanagement in government agencies and state-owned 
enterprises. In general, the government-owned media do not 
carry criticism of government policies or of Chairman Rawlings 



153 



GHANA 

and PNDC members. They also do not cover the opposition. In 
recent months, the official media have opened up somewhat, and 
a wider range of opinion is now available. Journalists are 
occasionally subject to discipline or dismissal by the 
Government for publishing articles deemed unacceptable. As a 
result, self-censorship is a pattern in the official media, and 
writers, editors, and commentators rarely cross the boundary of 
acceptable reporting and commentary. 

Foreign periodicals such as West Africa, Time, and Newsweek are 
sold in Accra and other major cities; even issues containing 
articles critical of Ghana's Government circulate freely. Most 
Western journalists are routinely accorded visas and press 
credentials as opposed to the practices of a few years ago. 

Although in principle the university campuses are subject to 
many of the same prohibitions on political expression as apply 
to the society in general, the PNDC has not suppressed academic 
freedom. The NUGS, one of the more vocal critics of the PNDC, 
is tolerated and allowed to organize and hold meetings. There 
have been several student demonstrations critical of the PNDC, 
but the Government has not taken any action against the student 
groups . 

b. Freedom of Peaceful Assembly and Association 

Freedom of assembly and association is restricted. People 
generally are free to join together formally or informally to 
promote benevolent or nonpolitical causes, but permits are 
required for public meetings or demonstrations, and these are 
seldom granted for political purposes, particularly if the 
applicant's views are at odds with those of the Government. 
The MFJ and the CCDF have repeatedly been denied permits to 
hold rallies. 

Political parties and political meetings are prohibited. The 
Government barred persons with close ties to the old parties 
from running as candidates for election to the district 
assemblies in 1988-89. Chairman Rawlings has said that the ban 
on political parties cannot be lifted until the Consultative 
Assembly has determined what organization will oversee the 
electoral process, the procedures for registration of parties, 
and the regulations regarding their activities. The 
Consultative Assembly was unable to complete its work by the 
end of the year, as scheduled, and is now expected to finish by 
February or March 1992. In a speech opening the Consultative 
Assembly in August, Chairman Rawlings indicated that 
legislation lifting the ban on political parties and activities 
will be adopted within 2 weeks after the constitutional 
referendum. In anticipation of open politics, a number of 
clubs and societies have sprung up that have close ties to the 
two former major parties and that freely discuss political 
issues and often criticize the PNDC. 

c. Freedom of Religion 

There is no state-favored religion. Ghanaians are 
predominantly Christian, and Christians of all sects as well as 
Muslims are well represented at all levels of government. 
There are no apparent advantages or disadvantages attached to 
membership in any particular sect or religion. 

PNDC efforts to urge the major religious communities to support 
its economic and social policies have created tensions. 
Chairman Rawlings publicly criticized the Roman Catholic Church 



154 



GHANA 

for prohibiting its priests from participating in the district 
assemblies. The PNDC has also been sensitive to criticism of 
Ghana's human rights record by leaders of various denominations. 

PNDC Law 221 of Jvine 1989 rec[uired all religious organizations 
to register with the religious affairs committee of the 
National Commission on Culture. The Commission was granted 
authority to deny registration and the right to worship 
publicly to any religious group whose actions, it concluded, 
would lead to social disruption or offend the morals of the 
people. The Government received some 11,000 applications from 
various churches wishing to register. However, the Roman 
Catholic Church and the 14 mainline Protestant churches which 
belong to the Christian Council have refused to register on 
grounds that the law infringed on freedom of religion. The 
Government has made no effort to enforce that law, and those 
religious bodies that refused to register continue to worship 
freely. In 1991 the PNDC suspended this religious registration 
law while it conducted discussions with the Catholic 
Secretariat and the Protestant Christian Council. 

Also in June 1989, the Government "froze" the assets of four 
churches, two indigenous Christian churches plus the Jehovah's 
Witnesses and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints 
(Mormons), and expelled their foreign personnel. The 
indigenous churches had often been accused of promoting 
practices offensive to the general community; the Jehovah's 
Witness community was accused of not showing proper respect for 
the symbols of Ghana's Government, and the Mormons were accused 
of practicing racism. On November 30, 1990, the Government 
rescinded the prohibition on the Mormons. The Government met 
with the Jehovah's Witnesses in July 1991 and in November 
unfroze the church's assets and allowed it to resume public 
worship. 

Other foreign missionary groups have generally operated 
throughout the country with a minimum of formal restrictions. 
Some churches have had difficulty obtaining visas and residence 
permits for some of their expatriate missionaries. 

d. Freedom of Movement Within the Country, Foreign 
Travel, Emigration, and Repatriation 

Ghanaians and foreigners are free to move throughout Ghana 
without special permission. Police checkpoints exist 
countrywide for the prevention of smuggling. Roadblocks and 
car searches are a normal part of nighttime travel in Accra. 

As members of the Economic Community of West African States, 
Ghanaians may travel without visas for up to 90 days in member 
states. Ghanaians are generally free to exercise this right, 
and nationals of other member states are free to travel to 
Ghana. Ghanaians are also free to emigrate or to be 
repatriated from other countries. 

In what appeared to be deliberate harassment, the deputy 
national secretary of the MFJ, upon his return from a trip 
abroad, was interrogated for several hours, searched, and had 
some of his possessions confiscated. He was told to report to 
the Bureau of National Investigation, the ecpaivalent of the U. 
S. Federal Bureau of Investigation, the next day. When he did 
so, his possessions were returned, and he received an apology. 

Since the last half of 1990, Ghana has been faced with a 
growing refugee population. Liberians fleeing civil war began 



155 



GHANA 

to arrive in August 1990. By November 1990, Ghana was hosting 
some 8,000 Liber ian refugees. Most of the new refugee 
population, as well as many transiting third-country nationals 
who also fled Liberia, were housed in a United Nations High 
Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and government-assisted camp 
20 kilometers outside of Accra. An undetermined number of 
refugees have spontaneously returned to Liberia since then. By 
August 1991, the estimated camp population was 3,000 to 4,000. 
In addition, over 15,000 Ghanaians who resided in Liberia 
returned to their home villages in Ghana, often imposing great 
strain on government social services. Prior to the influx of 
Liber ians, Ghana was hosting approximately 150 refugees 
registered with the UNHCR. 

In December 1991, some 1,500 to 2,000 Togolese fled 
disturbances in Lome and entered Ghana. However, by the end of 
the year most had voluntarily returned to Togo. 

Section 3 Respect for Political Rights: The Right of Citizens 
to Change Their Government 

Citizens do not have this right. Chairman Rawlings and the 
PNDC exercise total executive, legislative, and administrative 
power. However, in January Chairman Rawlings announced that 
the PNDC had entered its last phase, and the country would have 
a new constitution by the end of the year. In August, at the 
inauguration of the Consultative Assembly, he announced that if 
the Assembly finished its work in debating and preparing a new 
constitution by December 31, the constitutional referendum 
would be held in February or March. 

The Consultative Assembly, composed of 260 members — 117 elected 
by the district assemblies, 121 elected by organizations, and 
22 appointed by the PNDC — was not able to complete its work by 
year's end, in part due to administrative problems and the need 
for Assembly members to consult with constituents. As a 
result, the referendum was rescheduled for April to be followed 
2 weeks later by the lifting of the ban on political parties. 
According to the PNDC timetable, presidential and parliamentary 
elections would still be held by the end of 1992, with 
international observers invited to attend. 

A key step in 1991 was the passage of a law establishing an 
independent electoral commission to replace the PNDC-controlled 
National Commission on Democracy. The law established the 
requisite de jure independence for the commission; however, it 
remains to be seen whether the PNDC will appoint commissioners 
of the necessary stature, integrity, and neutrality to provide 
de facto independence. 

There has been heavy criticism of the PNDC control over the 
transition process, including its method of selecting members 
for the Consultative Assembly, e.g., allegedly for favoring 
groups with PNDC sympathies. However, the Assembly seems to be 
operating as an independent body, and the PNDC has made no 
effort to influence its deliberations, even when the Assembly 
challenges established PNDC policy. 

Section 4 Governmental Attitude Regarding International and 

Nongovernmental Investigation of Alleged Violations 
of Human Rights 

An organization called the Ghana Committee on Human and 
People's Rights was formed in October. Several other 
organizations — most notably the Ghana Bar Association and the 



156 



GHANA 

MFJ — have attempted to address human rights issues from time to 
time. The Government's reactions to these efforts have ranged 
from indifference to active discouragement. In 1991 the PNDC 
invited Amnesty International (AI) to visit Ghana to discuss 
alleged inaccuracies in an AI report. The Government permits 
prison visits by the International Committee of the Red Cross. 

Section 5 Discrimination Based on Race, Sex, Religion, 
Language, or Social Status 

Although ethnic differences are intentionally played dovm by 
the Government, opponents of the PNDC occasionally complain 
that the PNDC and the political leadership are dominated by the 
Ewe ethnic group from eastern Ghana. Chairman Rawlings and a 
number of his close advisors are Ewe, but many PNDC members and 
secretaries are from other ethnic groups. 

The Government has made concerted efforts to raise the status 
of women, but Ghanaian women remain subject to some forms of 
societal discrimination. In 1985 the PNDC promulgated four 
laws which overturned many of the customary, traditional, and 
colonial laws which discriminated against women. These 
concerned family accountability, intestate succession, 
customary divorce registrations, and the administration of 
estates. Women in urban centers and those who have entered the 
modern sector encounter little overt bias, but resistance to 
women in nontraditional roles persists. Women in the rural 
agricultural sector remain subject to traditional male 
dominance and heavy field labor. Statistics show a 50/50 
percent male/female ratio in enrollments in grade 1, dropping 
to 66/34 percent by grade 6, 80/20 percent at secondary level, 
and a 90/10 percent at university level. 

Violence against women, including wife beating, occurs, but, as 
there are no statistics or studies available, the extent of the 
problem is unknown. Police do not normally intervene in 
domestic disputes, and such cases seldom come before the 
courts. The Government has not addressed the issue of violence 
against women, but it strongly discourages the practice of 
female circumcision, although it has not made it illegal. 
Female mutilation (e.g., clitor idectomy) is practiced only in 
the far northeastern and northwestern parts of the country. 

Section 6 Worker Rights 

a. The Right of Association 

This right is restricted as the trade unions' ordinance confers 
broad powers on the Government to refuse to register a trade 
union. However, the PNDC has not interfered with the right of 
workers to associate in labor unions. Civil servants are 
prohibited by law from joining or organizing a trade union. 
Trade unions in Ghana and their activities are still governed 
by the Industrial Relations Act (IRA) of 1965. The Trade Union 
Congress (TUC) , established in 1958, represents organized labor 
in Ghana. It has been the sole central organization since its 
creation, when it was closely linked to Nkrumah's Convention 
People's Party. The TUC has been reorganized on a number of 
occasions, including by a pro-PNDC faction following the 
military coup of 1981. In 1984 the progovernment slate was 
defeated in a free election by experienced union leaders who, 
aided by a revised union constitution and bylaws, have sought 
to define an autonomous role for the TUC within the PNDC regime. 



157 



GHANA 

The right to strike is recognized in law. Under the IRA, the 
Government has established a system of settling disputes, first 
through conciliation, then arbitration. There has been no 
progress in implementing the Government's declared intention to 
replace this system with labor tribunals to arbitrate 
industrial disputes certified as deadlocked. 

The Committee of Experts (COE) of the International Labor 
Organization (ILO) and other ILO bodies continue to criticize 
Ghanaian legislation that limits the right of workers to form 
unions of their own choosing. 

The TUC is affiliated with the Organization of African Trade 
Union Unity (OATUU) , which has its headquarters in Accra. 
Consistent with OATUU guidelines, the TUC maintains no other 
international affiliations, although it has friendly relations 
with a variety of international trade union organizations. 

b. The Right to Organize and Bargain Collectively 

The IRA provides a framework for collective bargaining and some 
protection against antiunion discrimination as well. Ghana's 
trade unions engage in collective bargaining for wages and 
benefits with both private and state-owned enterprises, though 
in the latter category the threat of detention (a common 
practice in the early 1980 's) hangs over union leaders to force 
agreement on issues. No union leaders were detained in recent 
years for union, or other, activities. There are no 
functioning export processing zones in Ghana. 

c. Prohibition of Forced or Compulsory Labor 

Ghanaian law prohibits forced labor, and it is not known to be 
practiced. The COE continues to urge the Government to revise 
various legal provisions that permit imprisonment with an 
obligation to perform labor for offenses that are not 
countenanced under ILO Convention 105, ratified by Ghana in 
1958. 

d. Minimum Age for Employment of Children 

Labor legislation in Ghana sets a minimum employment age of 15 
and prohibits night work and certain types of hazardous labor 
for those under 18. In practice, child labor is prevalent, and 
young children of school age can often be found during the day 
performing menial tasks in the market or collecting fares on 
local buses. Observance of minimum age laws is eroded by local 
custom and economic circumstances that encourage children to 
work to help their families. Violators of regulations 
prohibiting heavy labor and night work for children are 
occasionally punished. Inspectors from the Ministry of 
Mobilization and Social Welfare are responsible for enforcement 
of child labor regulations. 

e. Acceptable Conditions of Work 

Minimum standards for wages and working conditions are 
established through a tripartite committee composed of 
representatives of government, labor, and employees. It 
establishes a minimum wage rate, and other salaries are 
adjusted accordingly. In August the tripartite commission 
established a minimum wage combining wages with customary 
benefits, such as a transportation allowance, but the existing 
minimum wage is insufficient for a single wage earner to 
support a family. In most cases households are supportefi by 



158 



GHANA 

multiple wage earners, some family farming, and other family 
based commercial activities. 

The basic workweek in Ghana is 40 hours. Occupational safety 
and health regulations are in effect, and sanctions are 
occasionally applied through the Labor Department of the 
Ministry of Social Welfare. However, Ministry officials are 
few in number and poorly trained. They will take action if 
matters are called to their attention, but lack the resources 
to seek out violations. 



159 



GUINEA 



Under President Lansana Conte, Guinea has been governed by the 
Military Committee for National Recovery (CMRN) and a joint 
military and civilian cabinet since 1984. While in 1991 
authority remained with the President and his Cabinet, who 
continued to govern by decree, in February President Conte 
replaced the CMRS with the Transitional Committee for National 
Recovery (CTRN) . The CTRN has been assigned lawmaking (i.e., 
legislative) tasks, but the new Constitution only specifies 
that the CTRN replaces the CMRN until the Constitution becomes 
effective. In 1991 the CTRN concentrated largely on drafting 
the "organic" laws necessary to implement the Constitution, 
which, passed by referendum in December 1990, provides for a 
maximum interim 5-year period of mixed military and civilian 
administration leading to at least a two party system of 
government. The Cabinet includes representation from all 
ethnic groups, but it appeared divided on the need and pace of 
political reform. Ethnic violence surfaced again in 1991, 
especially after local elections in June, resulting in hundreds 
of deaths . 

The pace of reform was very much controlled by President Conte 
and his team. National Assembly elections are to take place by 
the end of 1992, and the new Assembly will then set a date for 
presidential elections. Political parties were not permitted, 
and in May all meetings and demonstrations were banned, 
effectively neutralizing the nascent opposition. By late in 
the year, 30 parties and political organizations had formed, 
but the Government mandated that they restrict their activities 
to meetings in private homes until promulgation of the 
political party law. 

Military and paramilitary forces number around 17,000 persons. 
Responsibility for internal security is shared by the 
gendarmerie, the national police, and a well-armed Presidential 
Guard. Both the military and the police committed human rights 
abuses in 1991. Lawyers were still not allowed in police 
stations to help prevent such abuses. 

Over 80 percent of Guinea's 7 million people live by 
svibsistence agriculture, and per capita gross domestic product 
is around $430. Guinea's major exports are bauxite, gold, and 
diamonds. In 1991 the World Bank and the International 
Monetary Fund (IMF) continued to oversee Guinea's major 
economic restructuring program, which involves, inter alia, a 
sharp reduction in the size of the public service. This 
austerity program was viewed by critics as a major cause of 
political turbulence in 1991. 

Human rights in Guinea remained tightly circumscribed in 1991, 
although public discussion of political reform and the new 
Constitution stimulated expectations for change. Major 
problems included the inability of the Government to curb 
ethnic violence and serious abuses by poorly disciplined 
security forces, the use of arbitrary arrest and detention to 
harass alleged opponents, and restrictions on speech, the 
press, assembly, and association. 



160 



* GUINEA 

RESPECT FOR HUMAN RIGHTS 

Section 1 Respect for the Integrity of the Person, Including 
Freedom from: 

a. Political and Extrajudicial Killings 

There were no reports of political killings. However, there 
were a number of extrajudicial killings in 1991, mainly 
associated with ethnic violence. In June, following local 
elections outside Conakry, there were ethnic riots in several 
prefectures, notably in N'Zerekore. There, several hundred 
people died in clashes between Malinkes and Guerzes touched off 
by intertribal taunting after the announcement of election 
results . 

In January gendarmes in Dalaba beat a suspected thief to death 
and then tried to disguise it as a suicide. A march was 
organized on the gendarmerie which resulted in the wounding of 
two people and the burning of the gendarmerie post. 
Subsequently, the resident minister denounced the human rights 
abuses on Guinean radio as being inconsistent with the new 
Constitution. The gendarmes were not brought to trial. In 
April, in Kissidougou, a man was shot and killed by police 
after an argument . 

The authorities' treatment of Alpha Conde, an opposition 
leader, led to one death. He returned to Guinea from abroad in 
May, and the authorities immediately accused him of secretly 
bringing weapons into the country. The charges were believed 
to have been trumped up (see Section l.d.). Police used 
excessive force to break up a planned rally organized by 
Conde's Rally of the Guinean People (RPG) , injuring several 
persons. A few weeks later, police killed a demonstrator 
protesting a police summons for Conde to report to police 
headc[uarters . 

In the first half of 1991, there were reports from the 
Guinea-Liber ian border of soldiers detaining and killing 
supporters of the Liberian rebel leader, Charles Taylor. 
Taylor and his National Patriotic Front of Liberia (NPFL) 
forces had reportedly killed a number of Guineans living in 
Liberia. Given fears of a Taylor insurgency in Guinea, Guinean 
security forces were more likely to detain refugees suspected 
of being Taylor supporters, including those bearing scorpion 
tattoos (the symbol of Charles Taylor's forces). Guinean 
security forces also took measures to protect refugees with 
scorpion tattoos from other Liber ians when it was determined 
that they had been forcibly tattooed. 

b. Disappearance 

There were no reports of disappearances. 

c. Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading 
Treatment or Punishment 

The 1965 Penal Code and the Constitution prohibit torture and 
cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment. However, the Guinean 
police are often guilty of brutality against suspects, as the 
Dalaba incident indicated. Prison conditions, including those 
in the women's prison, are primitive and unhealthy. Deaths due 
to malnutrition and disease are frequent. An article in the 
February 10, 1991, issue of Horoya, the official newspaper, 
highlighted this point. 



161 

GUINEA 

d. Arbitrary Arrest, Detention, or Exile 

Ineffective administrative controls and limited legal resources 
make arbitrary arrest a persistent threat to Guineans. There 
were cases of arbitrary arrest and detention in 1991. The most 
important involved actions taken following the May return of 
the opposition leader Alpha Conde. In a June 20 police raid on 
Conde's home, the police apparently exceeded the terms of their 
warrant, seizing not only Conde's papers (as instructed) but 
stealing large c[uantities of personal items and cash as well. 
While Conde was not at home at the time of the raid, police 
arrested 60 of his followers (including his brother), 12 of 
whom were subsequently brought to trial on charges of 
possession of illegal weapons and harboring delinquents. At 
one point, Conde's lawyer was briefly held by the police. 
Conde himself took refuge in the residence of the Senegalese 
Ambassador and later was allowed to leave the country at the 
rec[uest of the Senegalese Government. 

Many members of the public viewed the case as a frame-up by 
elements within the Government (the "arms" shown on television 
to a skeptical public turned out to be knives and chemical mace 
freely available in the local markets). The case also received 
international attention and criticism. Ultimately, Conde's 
brother received a nominal fine for possession of illegal 
munitions, and charges against the other defendants were 
dismissed. The judge ordered the police to return Conde's 
property. No disciplinary action was taken against the police. 

In December 1990, lawyer and civil rights activist Christian 
Sow was summoned and escorted first to the police station, and 
then, at gun point, to the Police Academy, 50 kilometers out of 
the city. During the night, he received a head injury under 
circumstances never clarified, although the police claimed it 
was self-inflicted. When his colleagues first inquired about 
him at the police station, the police said that they had not 
seen him. However, the next morning, the police chief released 
him without explanation. One credible report indicated the 
incident was the product of a dispute within the CMRN, the 
military leadership directly preceding the CTRN, over the 
powers of the police. Again, no action was taken to discipline 
the responsible police officials. 

Roger Millimono, an official in the Ministry of Tourism, 
Information, and Culture, was summarily held for 2 months in 
prison without specific charge or trial, with the Government 
explaining only that it was an "affair of state." Guinean 
lawyers complained about improper procedures until Millimono 
was released. Mr. Millimono subsequently resumed his duties at 
the Ministry. 

e. Denial of Fair Public Trial 

Guinean law provides guarantees of due process. The Guinean 
Penal Code provides for the presumption of innocence of accused 
persons, the independence of judges, the equality of citizens 
before the law, the right of the accused to counsel, and the 
right to appeal a judicial decision. 

At present, the judiciary is susceptible to influence by the 
executive, although the new Constitution affirms the 
judiciary's independence. In trials drawing international 
attention, such as the cases involving Conde's supporters, the 
legal procedures are more likely to be observed. 



162 



GUINEA 

The judiciary includes the courts of first instance (or justice 
of the peace at the local level) and two courts of appeal (one 
in Kankan, one in Conakry) . The Court of /Annulment is the 
Guinean last court of appeal. Guinean law provides for a court 
of state security under certain circumstances, but one has not 
met since the trial of those allegedly involved in the coup 
attempt of 1985. A military tribunal prepares and adjudicates 
charges against accused military personnel. However, since 
1988 all judgments regarding violations under the Penal Code 
have been rendered by civilian courts. There is a traditional 
system of justice at the village or urban neighborhood level 
where litigants present their civil cases before a village 
chief, neighborhood chief, or council of wise men for 
judgment. Trials are public. Those accused of major crimes 
have the right to an attorney at public expense if they cannot 
afford counsel . 

The dividing line between the formal and informal justice 
system is vague, and a case may be referred from the formal to 
the traditional system to ensure compliance by all parties with 
the judicial ruling. Conversely, if a case cannot be resolved 
to the satisfaction of all parties in the traditional system, 
it may be referred to the formal system for adjudication. 

In late 1990 and early 1991, officials in the Ministry of 
Finance and the Economy were prosecuted for corruption. In a 
trial at the Court of Assizes in Conakry, they were found 
guilty and given light sentences. 

Suspected criminals caught in urban areas are sometimes beaten 
to death by victims and their neighbors with the tacit approval 
of police authorities. While public officials have openly 
condemned such summary justice, no one has ever been tried or 
punished for it . 

The administration of justice is plagued by numerous problems: 
the shortage of magistrates (who are generally poorly trained) 
and lawyers (35 in all), an outdated and overrestrictive legal 
code, and corruption. There are also allegations of nepotism 
in the administration of justice, with relatives of influential 
members of the Government being virtually immune to the law. 

f . Arbitrary Interference with Privacy, Family, Home, or 
Correspondence 

The Government stresses traditional family values and the 
inviolability of the home. However, the possibility of 
interference in citizens' lives continues primarily through 
police harassment. It is widely believed that security 
officials monitor mail and telephone calls. Judicial search 
warrants are required by law, but these procedures are 
frequently ignored or, as in the Conde affair (see Section 
l.d.), not strictly followed. 

Section 2 Respect for Civil Liberties, Including: 

a. Freedom of Speech and Press 

While the Government publicly states that it supports free 
speech and a free press, and the new Constitution provides for 
an unspecified degree of freedom of expression, these freedoms 
are restricted in practice. A new press law, while proclaiming 
freedom of press and communications, prohibits communications 
which offend the Guinean President, incite to violence, 
discrimination or hatred, or disturb the public peace. 



163 



GUINEA 

Seditious cries or chants uttered in public are also 
prohibited. The law permits the preventive arrest of 
publishers, authors, printers, and vendors in all of the above 
cases . 

The Government owns and operates most of the news media. 
Reporters, who are government employees, practice 
self-censorship in order to protect their jobs. The Ministry 
of Information, Culture, and Tourism continues to act as 
overseer of the media, but censorship appears to have 
diminished in 1991. A somewhat bolder spirit of criticism in 
the Government-owned media surfaced, providing franker and more 
open coverage of events. For example, there was open 
discussion in the media of the bloody ethnic rioting in 
N'Zerekore in June. 

Beginning in June, several independent journals sprang up, some 
of which were very outspoken in their criticism of the 
Government. However, these tended to be published irregularly 
and were generally short-lived, due to technical and financial 
difficulties rather than government restriction. 

Several political tracts, both signed and unsigned, that 
included specific criticisms of the President and other 
officials were distributed widely in Conakry and other 
regions. In February, two Guineans issuing leaflets hostile to 
Conte's regime were arrested; the text of the leaflets had a 
racist edge. However, foreign publications, some of which 
include criticism of the Government, circulated freely in 
Guinea. There was no attempt to interfere with foreign radio 
broadcasts. 

b. Freedom of Peaceful Assembly and Association 

Public gatherings may take place only with the approval of the 
Government. The Penal Code bans any meeting that has an ethnic 
or racial character or any gathering "whose nature threatens 
national unity." Political parties are still not officially 
sauictioned, although more than 30 embryonic groups had begun to 
organize by year's end. The President stated at midyear that 
party organization (but not party-stimulated public unrest) was 
permissible and counseled politicians to be patient until the 
laws permitting open political activity entered into force. 
Open party competition was scheduled to begin on April 3, 1992, 
after the Government promulgates its law on parties. 

When Alpha Conde attempted to hold a rally on May 19, security 
forces intervened with tear gas, injuring three people. The 
Government justified the action on the grounds that Conde did 
not have a permit (see Section l.a.). In October and November, 
three demonstrations by students and former civil servants 
protesting unemployment took place without incident. 

The Government encourages the formation of nonpolitical 
professional organizations, whose numbers continue to increase. 

c. Freedom of Religion 

Large religious groups enjoy religious freedom and tolerance. 
An estimated 85 percent of the population is Muslim. There is 
no official state religion, and the preamble of the new 
Constitution declares Guinea to be a secular state. The 
Government observes major Christian and Muslim holidays. 
Foreign missionaries, both Catholic and Protestant, operate 
freely in Guinea. The state-owned radio and television 



164 



GUINEA 

Stations provide regular air time for both Christian and Muslim 
broadcasts. In the only known case of violence possibly 
related to religion, churches and mosques were damaged during 
the June rioting in N'Zerekore (see Section l.a.). 

The Government and the quasi-governmental National Islamic 
League (LIN) have spoken out against the proliferation of 
"pseudo-sects (within Guinean Islam) generating confusion and 
deviation" but have not restricted these groups. The new 
Constitution guarantees religious communities the freedom to 
administer themselves without state interference. 

d. Freedom of Movement Within the Country, Foreign 
Travel, Emigration, and Repatriation. 

Guineans are free to travel within the country and to change 
their place of residence and work, although in practice they 
face harassment by police and military roadblocks, particularly 
at night. It is common for citizens to pay bribes to avoid 
police harassment. Foreign travel is permitted, although the 
Government retains the ability to limit it for political 
reasons . 

About 450,000 Liber ians and Sierra Leoneans have sought refuge 
in Guinea, mostly in the forest region. The Government 
continues to work closely with the United Nations High 
Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and many other international 
and nongovernmental organizations to provide food and shelter 
for the refugees. Some were accused of involvement in the 
N'Zerekore violence leading to fears of expulsion. No action 
was taken against them, and the UNHCR participated in an 
investigation that showed the refugees were no more involved 
than their nvunbers and degree of integration into society would 
have predicted. With the aid of the donors, the majority of 
refugees have been well treated by the Government. However, 
there were unconfirmed reports in early 1991 of soldiers 
killing refugees suspected of being Charles Taylor supporters. 

Section 3 Respect for Political Rights: The Right of Citizens 
to Change Their Government 

Guinean citizens were not able to change their government 
through democratic procedures in 1991. The President and his 
Cabinet wielded full powers of government. The Constitution 
(basic law) provides for a transition to democracy not to 
exceed 5 years. On October 2, President Conte announced that 
the CTRN would have finalized versions of all of the "organic 
laws" by December 23; that full party activity would be 
authorized when the law on political parties came into effect 
on April 3, 1992; that legislative elections would be held by 
the end of 1992; and that the legislature would fix the date of 
presidential elections at its first session. 

The role of the military in the Government continues to be a 
key issue in political reform. Retiring or sending officers 
back to the barracks remains a delicate process. A number of 
senior officers were retired in 1991 without incident. The 
future political role of the President and certain military 
members of the Council of Ministers remains uncertain. The 
Alpha Conde affair, as well as that of Christian Sow (Section 
l.d.), demonstrated the existence of elements within the 
Cabinet, particularly within the security forces, hostile to 
democratic principles. 



165 



GUINEA 

The Constitution provides for basic human rights and for 
democratic structures, including an elected president with 
broad powers, an elected national assembly, an economic and 
social council, and a supreme court. The Constitution and 
relevant organic laws also provide for a multiparty system, as 
long as parties are not ethnic or regional. The political 
parties law allows the Interior Minister to suspend or disband 
political parties, subject to judicial review, when they are 
involved in such crimes as inciting violence. 

Local elections were held in 1991. Councils were freely 
elected — with multiple candidates and secret ballots — in the 
five communes of Conakry on March 10, and Conakry district 
elections were held on June 3. Communal elections outside 
Conakry were held on June 9. There were no legal restrictions 
on women or minorities in voting. However, in several 
prefectures, the elections involved ethnic rioting, most 
notably in N'Zerekore where hundreds died (see Section l.a.). 

Section 4 Governmental Attitude Regarding International and 

Nongovernmental Investigation of Alleged Violations 
of Human Rights 

There are two local nongovernmental organizations in Guinea 
that are primarily interested in human rights issues: the 
Guinean Organization for Human Rights (OGDH) and the Children 
of the Victims of Camp Boiro. The OGDH is composed largely of 
members of the professions and is interested in legal and civil 
rights as well as such social and economic rights as education 
and employment. In one instance in 1991, it called for a 
general strike in response to the arrest of Alpha Conde's 
attorney. As with OGDH's other activities, the Government did 
not interfere. The Children of the Victims of Camp Boiro 
(Sekou Toure's main detention center for political prisoners) 
became an officially recognized civic organization in 1991. In 
addition to seeking restitution of losses for the families of 
those who died at Camp Boiro, this organization began planning 
a center to collect and disseminate information about human 
rights violations committed in Guinea, with a view to 
preventing future violations. Partly as a result of this 
organization's efforts, the Government announced plans to 
create a museum at Camp Boiro. There was no evidence of 
government restrictions on human rights activities by OGDH or 
by other nongovernmental organizations. There were no calls 
for international investigations of human rights violations in 
Guinea in 1991. 

Section 5 Discrimination Based on Race, Sex, Religion, 
Language, or Social Status 

While racial or ethnic discrimination is prohibited by the 
Constitution and the Penal Code, ethnic identification is 
strong in Guinea and mutual suspicion affects relations across 
ethnic lines, in and out of government. Official government 
policy is to include representatives of all major ethnic groups 
in the Government, but the Soussou ethnic group of President 
Conte tends to predominate at the most important levels. A 
disproportionate number of police are Malinke, former President 
Toure's ethnic group. 

Women face discrimination in Guinea, although the Constitution 
provides for the equality of sexes. In particular, in rural 
Guinea opportunities for women are limited by custom and the 
demands of subsistence farming. The Government has affirmed 
the principle of equal pay for equal work, but in practice 



166 



GUINEA 

women receive less pay than men in most jobs. In education, 
according to a U.N. Development Program report for 1991, 
females receive only 20 percent of the schooling of males. 

Violence against women, mainly wife beating, is a criminal 
offense and constitutes grounds for divorce under civil law. 
However, police rarely intervene in domestic disputes, and 
prosecution of husbands for wife beating is infrequent. Health 
workers in Guinea say that wife beating occurs, but differ as 
to the extent of the problem. The issue received some exposure 
in locally produced television dramas but is not mentioned in 
the press or given governmental attention. Female genital 
mutilation (circumcision) is widespread and practiced among all 
religious groups in Guinea: Muslims, Christians, and animists, 
although the current generation of young parents is less 
supportive of this custom. Grandmothers frequently insist on 
the circumcision of a granddaughter even when the parents are 
opposed. The most dangerous form of circumcision, 
inf ibulation, is not practiced. 

Section 6 Worker Rights 

a. The Right of Association 

Guinea's Labor Code, drafted with the assistance of the 
International Labor Organization (ILO) and promulgated in 
January 1988, states that all workers (except military and 
police) have the right to create and participate in 
organizations that defend and develop their individual and 
collective rights as workers. At least one independent union, 
the General Workers Union of Guinea (UGTG), has emerged since 
the new Labor Code ended the previously existing trade union 
monopoly system. . The Labor Code requires elected worker 
representatives for any enterprise employing 25 salaried 
workers. In practice, most workers still belong to the 
National Confederation of Guinean Workers (CNTG) which is 
funded by the State. The union leadership began work in 1991 
to develop a check-off system of dues collection, designed to 
increase the Confederation's autonomy vis-a-vis the 
Government. The CNTG played a prominent role in negotiations 
with the Government in May which eventually led to a decision 
to double government worker salaries. After reelecting its 
leadership in early July, the CNTG rewrote its internal 
constitution in light of the new national Constitution. 

With the exception of those engaged in "essential services," 
the Labor Code grants salaried workers, including public sector 
civilian workers, the right to strike 10 days after their 
representative union makes known their intention to strike. 
Mid-1991 saw a series of strikes and threatened strikes of 
which the most important was a general strike, including 
government workers, in early May. The strike was marred by 
pro- and antigovernment violence. A strike at the Friguia 
alumina plant was motivated at least in part by a desire to 
embarrass the national mineworkers union and may presage a 
period of local unions redefining their relationships with the 
national unions. Notably, the police presence during the 
strike was kept out of sight and violence was averted. 

Unions may freely associate with international labor groups, 
but the only notable affiliations are those the CNTG maintains 
in African regional trade union organizations. 



167 



GUINEA 

b. The Right to Organize and Bargain Collectively 

Under the Labor Code, representative workers' unions or union 
groups may organize the workplace and negotiate with employers 
or employer organizations. Collective bargaining for wages and 
salaries is protected by law. Work rules and work hours 
established by the employer are to be developed in consultation 
with union delegates. Union delegates are to represent 
individual and collective claims and grievances before the 
employer. Individual workers threatened with dismissal or 
other sanctions have the right to a hearing before the employer 
with a union representative present. Antiunion discrimination 
is prohibited by law. In July the CNTG added to all labor 
contracts language prohibiting such discrimination. There are 
no export processing zones in Guinea. 

c. Prohibition of Forced or Compulsory Labor 

The Labor Code specifically forbids forced or compulsory 
labor. There is no evidence of its practice. 

d. Minimum Age for Employment of Children 

The minimum age for employment in the new Code is 16 years of 
age. However, apprentices may start at 14. Workers and 
apprentices below 18 are not permitted to work at night, nor 
for more than 12 consecutive hours, nor on Sundays. The Labor 
Code states that the Minister of Labor and Social Affairs must 
maintain a list of occupations in which women and youth under 
18 may not be employed. Enforcement, however, by inspectors 
from this Ministry is limited to large firms in the modern 
sector of the economy; children of all ages work on family 
farms and in small trades. 

e. Acceptable Conditions of Work 

The Government has not yet enacted minimum wage legislation, 
but the Labor Code provides for the eventual establishment by 
decree of a guaranteed minimum hourly wage. There are also 
provisions for overtime and night wages which are fixed 
percentages of the regular wage. 

According to the Labor Code, regular work is not to exceed 
10-hour days or 48-hour weeks, with a 40-hour workweek being 
the norm. The minimum weekly day of rest must be 24 
consecutive hours, usually on Sunday. Every salaried worker 
has the right to an annual paid holiday accumulated at the rate 
of at least 2.5 workdays per month of service. 

Several articles of the Code provide for safe working 
conditions and the continued good health of workers, and labor 
inspectors are empowered to suspend work immediately in 
dangerous situations. These were as yet goals rather than 
practice and were not enforced in 1991. The Ministry of Labor 
and Social Affairs is supposed to enforce labor standards. 
Labor inspectors acknowledge that they cannot even cover 
Conakry, much less the entire country, with their small staffs 
and meager budgets . 



168 



GUINEA-BISSAU 



The Republic of Guinea-Bissau is a one-party state with former 
or present military leaders in key positions. General Joao 
Bernardo Vieira serves as President of the Council of State and 
Head of State, Commander-in-Chief, and General Secretary of 
Guinea-Bissau's previously sole legal political party, the 
African party for the Independence of Guinea-Bissau and Cape 
Verde (PAIGC). In elections held in June 1989, Vieira, the 
only candidate, was elected for a second 5-year term as 
President. Effective power and day-to-day decisions rest in 
the hands of the President and the Council of State. However, 
there have been growing pressures for political reform, many of 
them emanating from within the PAIGC. In 1991 President Vieira 
and the PAIGC again reaffirmed that the political structure of 
the country was to be changed to a presidentially based, 
multiparty system by early 1993. 

The armed forces (FARP) are responsible for state security, 
both external and internal. FARP leaders are usually members 
of the PAIGC and often hold key positions in the Political 
Bureau or Central Committee. The police were responsible for 
human rights abuses in 1991. Persons accused of political 
crimes are tried by military tribunals. 

Guinea-Bissau's population of 1 million is engaged largely in 
subsistence agriculture. There are some exports of fish and 
seafood and small amounts of peanuts. The Government's 
post independence efforts to exercise central control over the 
economy failed to stimulate agricultural production and 
resulted in chronic shortages of most basic commodities, 
inefficient state-owned enterprises, high unemployment, and a 
weak national currency. In 1991 the economy remained extremely 
fragile, despite a series of austerity reforms launched in the 
late 1980 's to promote long-term economic growth. 

Human rights remained circumscribed in 1991, as the Government 
and party carefully controlled the reform process. It passed 
potentially important legislation governing new parties, the 
press, and labor, but it cracked down, through detentions, 
physical mistreatment, and other forms of serious harassment, 
on political opponents and nascent groups that attempted to 
move quickly toward a multiparty system. By the end of the 
year, three new opposition political parties had attained legal 
status, ending a long midyear period of government inertia on 
the legalization of the opposition. A group of 121 of the 
PAIGC 's younger, more reformist members called publicly upon 
the President to recommit himself to the transition and to 
multipartyism. 

RESPECT FOR HUMAN RIGHTS 

Section 1 Respect for the Integrity of the Person, Including 
Freedom from: 

a. Political and Other Extrajudicial Killing 

There were no reports of political or extrajudicial killings, 
nor any reports of deaths of persons in official custody. 

b. Disappearance 

There were no known cases of disappearance. 



169 



GUINEA-BISSAU 

c. Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading 
Treatment or Pxinishment 

The Constitution prohibits cruel and inhuman punishment, and a 
recent revision also makes evidence obtained through torture or 
other coercion invalid. However, security authorities employ 
abusive interrogation methods, especially severe beatings. In 
September the police beat four members of a nascent political 
party while they were in police custody (see Section 2.b.). 
There have been no known cases of police officers or security 
officials being disciplined for such actions. 

d. Arbitrary Arrest, Detention, or Exile 

Arrests in Guinea-Bissau are frequently arbitrary, as arrest 
procedures are undefined, and the use of arrest warrants is the 
exception rather than the rule. The legal system, inherited 
from the Portuguese but modified by the Constitution, includes 
important procedural rights, such as the right to counsel, but 
generally fails to provide adequate safeguards against 
arbitrary or illegal arrest and detention. Bail procedures are 
also observed erratically. 

The Government frequently holds persons without charge or 
trial, sometimes for extended periods of time, including in 
incommunicado detention. The security services continue to 
have the power administratively to detain suspects without 
reference to judicial authority, often through the device of 
house arrest. The Government used its detention powers in 1991 
to arrest and hold for several hours six members of a 
prospective new political party for alleged illegal 
demonstrations . 

e. Denial of Fair Public Trial 

Traditional law still prevails in most rural areas, and many 
urban dwellers continue to bring judicial disputes to 
recognized traditional counselors. With some exceptions, the 
official judicial system is based on the Portuguese model. 
Intervals between arrest and trial are often lengthy. Defense 
lawyers traditionally have been court appointed. Private legal 
practice became permissible only in 1990. 

The military dominates the handling of political and security 
cases. Trials involving state security usually are not open to 
outside observers and are conducted by military tribunals. 
Armed forces members are tried by military courts for all 
offenses. The Supreme Court is the final court of appeal for 
both civilian and military cases, except those involving 
national security matters. In this instance the Council of 
State reviews all decisions. 

The Government maintains that there are no political detainees 
or prisoners held since the release in 1990 of 22 prisoners 
convicted of involvement in a 1985 coup plot. There are 
credible reports, however, that five persons classifiable as 
political prisoners are restricted to living in the Bijagos 
Islands and are permitted visits only by family members. 

f . Arbitrary Interference with Privacy, Family, Home, or 
Correspondence 

Constitutional guarantees of the inviolability of domicile, 
person, and correspondence are not always respected in cases of 
serious crimes or state security. International and domestic 



170 



GUINEA-BISSAU 

mail may be subject to surveillance and censorship. While 
membership in the PAIGC was never forced, persons with 
political aspirations traditionally have realized the 
importance of belonging to what was long Guinea-Bissau's sole 
legal political party, and most government appointments in the 
past have gone to party members. 

Section 2 Respect for Civil Liberties, Including: 

a. Freedom of Speech and Press 

The Constitution provides for freedom of intellectual, 
artistic, and scientific expression, with the significant 
exception of cases in which these rights are exercised in a 
manner "contrary to the promotion of social progress." In 
practice, these freedoms are restricted. The Government 
controls all information media and tends to view the press as a 
vehicle for the expression of government views. Journalists 
traditionally are government employees and practice 
self-censorship to maintain their positions. Criticism of 
certain officials or government offices appears from time to 
time in the local news, but typically only when aimed at 
persons who are already known to have lost the President's 
support . 

In the 1991 revisions to the Constitution, an article was added 
that for the first time specifically provided for freedom of 
the press and established a National Council of Social 
Communications to oversee fair access to the electronic and 
print media. While a new press law enacted late in the year 
requires government media to reflect the full range of public 
opinion without favor to any group, it is too early to know how 
effective the law will prove in practice. By year's end, newly 
legalized parties were granted 10 minutes of television airtime 
per month and were being covered by radio news. 

b. Freedom of Peaceful Assembly and Association 

Although the Constitution provides for freedom of assembly and 
association and government approval is not required for 
peaceful, nonpolitical assemblies and demonstrations, 
heretofore, all existing organizations have been linked to the 
Government or the party. This situation changed significantly 
during 1991, however, with the formation of numerous political 
and nonpolitical organizations having no ties to the PAIGC. 
Over a dozen groups attempted to gain legal status as political 
parties, and at least five conducted effective nationwide 
campaigns to gather the necessary petition signatures. 

Newly emerging opposition political parties faced a number of 
obstacles in complying with the prescribed legalization 
procedures, including a complex and difficult system for 
obtaining valid signatures on the required petition. 
Additionally, police and security forces harassed and 
intimidated potential petition signers, using inter alia, 
detentions and physical mistreatment. During the year, 
therefore, the Government's position remained ambiguous: the 
groups had to canvas to gather signatures and then apply for 
legalization by registering the list of their members with the 
Supreme Court; until they attained that legal status, however, 
they were not "parties" as such and could not properly organize 
and publicly campaign to attract members. Nevertheless, three 
parties managed to gain legal status, all in the last 3 weeks 
of the year. Once legal, parties experienced no difficulties 
with the authorities over demonstrations. 



171 



GUINEA-BISSAU 

c. Freedom of Religion 

Religious freedom is provided for in the Constitution and has 
been respected in practice. Christians, Muslims, and animists 
worship freely, and proselytizing is permitted. However, 
religious groups must be licensed by the Government. In 1991 
there were no reports of groups being refused licenses. 

d. Freedom of Movement Within the Country, Foreign 
Travel, Emigration, and Repatriation 

Citizens are allowed to move freely throughout Guinea-Bissau. 
Foreign travel is not restricted, nor is citizenship revoked 
for political reasons. Over the past three decades a 
considerable number of persons have emigrated for economic 
reasons . 

During late 1990 and early 1991, up to 6,000 Senegalese 
refugees fled into northern Guinea-Bissau to escape the 
separatist disturbances in the Casamance region of southern 
Senegal. The Government worked with various international 
donors, including the United States, to provide for the basic 
health and nutritional needs of the refugees. No pressure was 
placed on refugees to return to Senegal and at year's end the 
U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees reported almost 5,000 still 
in Guinea-Bissau, most of them indicating that they intended to 
remain indefinitely. 

Section 3 Respect for Political Rights: The Right of Citizens 
to Change Their Government 

Citizens did not have this right in 1991. The PAIGC and 
military elite, headed by President Joao Bernardo Vieira, 
continued to control all political activity, including the pace 
of reform. However, constitutional revisions in 1991 deleted 
all reference to the PAIGC 's dominant role and allowed for new 
parties, so long as they do not have an ethnic, regional, or 
religious orientation. Although public expectations of 
political liberalization outpaced actual reforms during much of 
1991, progress toward democratization was made. 

Section 4 Governmental Attitude Regarding International and 

Nongovernmental Investigation of Alleged Violations 
of Human Rights 

A nonpartisan human rights group without government or 
political ties was formed in 1991. This group, the Guinean 
Human Rights League, has made low-key criticisms of the 
Government, calling for penal reform and abolition of the death 
penalty. 

Section 5 Discrimination Based on Race, Sex, Religion, 
Language, or Social Status 

While officially prohibited, discrimination against women 
persists within certain ethnic groups, especially the Fulas and 
Mandinkas of the north and east where female circumcision is 
still a widespread practice, despite official prohibition. 
Women enjoy higher status in the societies of the Balanta, 
Papel, and Bijagos groups, who live mainly in the southern 
coastal region. Women are responsible for much of the work on 
subsistence farms, and they have limited access to education, 
especially in rural areas. According to a recent U.N. study, 
females in Guinea-Bissau receive only one-third the schooling 
of males. While there are some high-ranking women in the 



172 



GUINEA-BISSAU 

Government and a ministry for the advancement of women exists, 
authority remains overwhelmingly in the hands of men. 

Physical violence, including wife beating, is an accepted means 
of settling domestic disputes among all ethnic groups. While 
police will intervene in domestic disputes if requested, the 
Government has not undertaken specific measures to raise the 
public consciousness of women or to reduce violence against 
them. It has undertaken educational campaigns against the 
practice of female circumcision, but the practice persists 
among certain ethnic groups. 

Section 6 Worker Rights 

a. The Right of Association 

In 1991 the Constitution was revised specifically to grant the 
freedom to form independent trade unions, and the Government 
had prepared, though still not enacted at year's end, enabling 
legislation to enumerate the rights and obligations of new 
unions. While the Constitution provides for freedom of 
association, in practice only one trade union confederation, 
the National Union of Workers of Guinea-Bissau (UNTG), exists 
in Guinea-Bissau. With strong ties to the PAIGC, the UNTG more 
closely resembles a mass party organization than an independent 
union, and it has been neither aggressive nor effective in 
promoting worker rights. 

The new Constitution of 1991 includes an article which 
recognizes the right to strike and prohibits lock-outs. In the 
past, strikes have occurred only on rare occasions, and the 
public's perception has been that strikes, like antigovernment 
meetings, would not be tolerated. In 1991, however, a nearly 
nationwide teachers' strike lasted for a number of weeks and 
resulted in negotiations between the Government and teachers' 
representatives. Also, capital city taxi drivers organized 
several short-term work stoppages to protest poor road 
maintenance and high fuel prices. In neither of these two 
cases did the Government take any repressive actions against 
the strikers. 

The UNTG is affiliated with the Communist-dominated World 
Federation of Trade Unions. The new labor law provides that 
unions will have the right to freely affiliate with 
international labor organizations of their choice, but until 
independent unions are formed the practical effect of this 
provision is unknown. 

b. The Right to Organize and Bargain Collectively 

Guinea-Bissau's small manufacturing sector employs fewer than 
5,000 persons, and almost half of the estimated 28,000 salaried 
workers are government employees. The scarcity of salaried 
jobs has forced employees to focus on obtaining and keeping 
employment rather than on organizing and bargaining. Public 
employees are permitted to join the UNTG, but its activities 
have not emphasized organizing employees (whether private or 
public) for the purpose of collective bargaining, and the 
Government dominates the bargaining process. The Constitution, 
even as revised in 1991, does not provide for or protect the 
right to bargain collectively. There are no export processing 
zones in Guinea-Bissau. 

The International Labor Organization's Committee of Experts has 
noted for several years that the Government's provision for the 



173 



GUINEA-BISSAU 

protection of workers against antiunion discrimination does not 
appear to be accompanied by penal sanctions against employers 
and that the General Labor Act of 1986 is not applicable 
toworkers in the public service. 

c. Prohibition of Forced or Compulsory Labor 

Forced or compulsory labor is not permitted by law and is not 
known to exist. 

d. Minimum Age for Employment of Children 

The General Labor Act of 1986 established a minimum age of 14 
for general factory labor and of 18 for heavy or dangerous 
labor, including all labor in mines. These minimum age 
requirements are generally followed in the small wage sector, 
but there is minimal enforcement by the Ministry of 
Administrative Reform, Civil Service, and Labor. Children in 
rural communities do domestic and field work for no pay. The 
Government does not attempt to discourage this practice and, in 
fact, delays the opening of schools until the rice harvesting 
season has ended. 

e. Acceptable Conditions of Work 

Even in the small wage sector, labor laws are unevenly enforced 
due primarily to the extreme economic underdevelopment of the 
country. However, there are governinent regulations governing 
such matters as job-related disabilities and vacation rights. 
The maximum number of hours permitted in a normal workweek is 
45 hours. Although not consistently enforced, a minimum wage 
is mandated by the Ministry of Civil Service for government 
employees. The wage is inadequate to maintain even a minimum 
standard of living, and workers must supplement their income 
through reliance on the extended family and subsistence 
agriculture. Existing legal, health, and safety standards for 
workers are not enforced by the Ministry of Administrative 
Reform, Civil Service, and Labor in a uniform or comprehensive 
manner . 



174 



KENYA 



After strenuously rejecting calls for political reform 
throughout 1991 and harassing and intimidating groups and 
individuals advocating multiparty democracy, Kenyan President 
Daniel T. Arap Moi, in a surprise move in December, recommended 
that Kenya again adopt a multiparty system. Although Kenya has 
had an elected civilian government since independence in 1963, 
the Kenya African National Union (KANU) has been de facto the 
sole political party almost since independence; since 1982 it 
has held that status de jure. Passage of the enabling 
legislation on December 10 opened the way for multiparty 
elections, which must be held by mid-1993 at the latest, for 
the elected National Assembly (unicameral Parliament) of 188 
members, plus 12 members appointed by the President and 2 ex 
officio members. Parties were expected to begin registration 
immediately in anticipation of the possibility of early 
elections. As of mid-December, legislation was also under 
consideration that would increase the number of possible 
elected seats in the National Assembly from its present limit 
of 188 to a maximum of 210. In its one-party configuration, 
the National Assembly has virtually no independent power in 
national political affairs, but its sessions provide a forum 
for members to raise local or regional issues. 

Kenya has a large and growing internal security apparatus that 
includes the police Criminal Investigation Department (CID), 
the paramilitary General Service Unit (GSU), and the 
Directorate of Security and Intelligence (DSI or Special 
Branch) . The CID and Special Branch investigate criminal 
activity and also monitor persons the State considers 
subversive. The internal security apparatus has been used to 
intimidate and harass politicians, opponents of the Government, 
and dissidents, sometimes resorting to torture and other 
mistreatment (see Section I.e.). 

Kenya's economy, despite the dominance of public and 
state-owned enterprises, includes a we 11 -developed private 
sector for trade and light manufacturing as well as an 
agricultural sector that provides food for local consumption 
and substantial exports of coffee, tea, and other commodities. 
Tourism is the top foreign exchange earner but grew at a slower 
pace in 1991 due to the Gulf War. Although economic growth 
continued in 1991, a persistently high population growth rate 
contributed to serious and growing unemployment. 

While there were signs of improvement in human rights in late 
1991, human rights were circumscribed for most of the year, and 
significant restrictions remained at year's end. For the first 
10 months of 1991 KANU resisted reform. President Moi 
repeatedly asserted that Kenya was not ready for multiparty 
democracy, and movement towards political change was blocked in 
various ways. The Government refused applications for licenses 
to hold opposition political meetings, and church groups and 
the Law Society canceled prayer meetings on political topics 
following government intimidation. The Government denied 
registration to a newly formed political party, and KANU 
expelled, under the guise of "deregistration" from the party, 
several members who joined an informal group advocating change 
(the Forum for the Restoration of Democracy — FORD). In 1991 
the Attorney General lifted restrictions on the Nairobi Law 
Monthly, originally banned for its coverage of the multiparty 
debate, and the Government released from custody the three 
prominent detainees held under the controversial Preservation 
of Public Security Act (PPSA), Kenneth Matiba, Charles Rubia, 
and Raila Odinga. A number of sedition trials were also 



175 



KENYA 

concluded in 1991; many questions were raised about the 
fairness of these trials, and there were credible charges of 
police brutality and torture. 

Former Member of Parliament (M.P.) George Anyona and three 
codefendants were convicted on circumstantial evidence which 
depended heavily on inferences from ambiguous documents found 
in the possession of the accused. Former M.P. Koigi Wa 
Wamwere, arrested in October 1990 on charges of treason, 
continued to be held in prison at year's end, awaiting trial. 
In what appeared to be a politically motivated decision, 
officers of the Kenyan Law Society were convicted of contempt 
of court resulting from an order forbidding them from making 
statements critical of the Government. 

At year's end, the Government had failed to investigate several 
cases of physical attacks on well-known government opponents 
and their families. Serious questions remained about the 
Government's handling of the investigation into the 1990 murder 
of Foreign Minister Robert Ouko. The fall of the Somali and 
Ethiopian Governments in the first 6 months of 1991 triggered 
an influx of refugees. The Government was reluctant to grant 
full refugee status to asylum seekers. Many refugees suffered 
police harassment and sporadic refoulements, culminating in a 
refoulement by the Kenyan Navy which resulted in the loss of 37 
Somali lives. 

RESPECT FOR HUMAN RIGHTS 

Section 1 Respect for the Integrity of the Person, Including 
Freedom from: 

a. Political and Other Extrajudicial Killings 

Following the murder of Foreign Minister Robert Ouko in 1990, 
which many believe was politically motivated, the Government 
called in a team from Britain's New Scotland Yard to assist in 
the investigation. A judicial inquiry began in October 1990 
and heard testimony for over a year. President Moi, however, 
abruptly terminated the inc[uiry on November 26 and asked the 
police to resume investigating the case. On December 9, a 
former district commissioner was charged with murder in the 
case. Two other suspects, former Energy and Industry Minister 
Nicholas Biwott and former Permanent Secretary for Internal 
Security and Provincial Administration Hezekiah Oyugi, were 
arrested November 26 but released without charge 2 weeks later 
due to lack of evidence. The judicial inquiry had heard 
substantial testimony regarding corruption on the part of 
Biwott and Oyugi, with the implication that corruption had 
played a part in motivating Dr. Ouko ' s murder. On the last day 
of the inquiry, its commissioners published a statement saying 
that their telephones had been bugged by the police and that 
they had heard rumors of a plot to assassinate one of their 
number to end the inquiry. There has been no investigation of 
these charges . 

On June 30, during a riot over student allowances, one Moi 
University student, Shadrack Opiyo, was shot dead by the 
police. No investigation followed the incident. 

Reports by survivors indicate that on May 25 the Kenyan Navy 
towed two boats of Somali asylum seekers out to sea in order to 
repatriate them against their will. Cut adrift in rough water, 
the unseaworthy boats capsized, and 37 refugees drowned. The • 
Navy showed extreme negligence over the possible loss of life. 



176 



KENYA 

The Ministry of Home Affairs, responsible for refugee matters, 
issued a statement exonerating the Navy, saying that naval 
vessels had not towed the refugees to sea but had come to 
assist an overloaded refugee boat. While towing the refugees 
to safety, the line broke, and the boat capsized. Although the 
United States Government and the United Nations High 
Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) requested an official 
investigation, at year's end no such inquiry had begun. 

b. Disappearance 

There were no reports of disappearance. 

c. Torture and other Cruel, Inhximan, and Degrading 
Treatment or Punishment 

Torture is proscribed under the Constitution, but there 
continued to be persistent credible reports of severe police 
brutality and abuse of prisoners in 1991. For example, when 
Reverend Lawford Ndege Imunde was released in March and his 
sentence commuted to time served, he alleged that during his 
imprisonment he had been beaten, denied appropriate medical 
treatment, and held in a prison for the criminally insane. 

In the sedition trial of George Anyona and his associates, 
defendant Edward Akong'o Oyugi claimed that for 10 days during 
his interrogation, he was beaten, kept naked in a flooded cell, 
and not given enough food. There has been no investigation of 
these allegations, which are the subject of pending litigation. 

During the same trial, George Anyona described his 
interrogation at Nyayo House in Nairobi, claiming that several 
floors of the building contained torture chambers and asking 
the magistrate to investigate the charge. The state prosecutor 
said that those areas of Nyayo House came under the Restricted 
Areas Act, and no further investigation occurred. E. Barrack 
Mbajah, brother of murdered Foreign Minister, Robert Ouko, 
claimed in an affidavit prepared in the United States that: "I 
was arrested, confined for 5 days and nights, and severely 
beaten by Kenya (sic) security after I refused to cooperate 
with them in covering up the assassination." A defendant in 
the Koigi Wa Wamwere treason trial. Rumba Kinuthia, says he was 
tortured and kept chained in a water-logged cell. Detailed 
accounts of beatings and painful, extended torture reported in 
past years have never been investigated. The Government seems 
to make no attempt to identify or prosecute those responsible. 

Prison conditions in Kenya are harsh due to overcrowding and 
insufficient funding for prison operations. Corruption and 
sexual abuse occur. Food and medical facilities are in short 
supply. Malnutrition particularly affects nursing and pregnant 
mothers, whose small children stay in prison with them. In 
March the Government made available information about the 
conditions under which the three Preservation of Public Safety 
Act detainees were held (see Section l.d.), specifically the 
frequency of family visits and access to legal and medical 
advice. It showed that medical and family access to these 
detainees was very limited. In the case of Raila Odinga, all 
requests for visits by legal counsel had been refused. 

d. Arbitrary Arrest, Detention, or Exile 

The Constitution provides that most persons arrested or 
detained (other than those detained under the PPSA) shall be 



177 



KENYA 

brought before a court "as soon as is reasonably practicable." 
If such person is not brought within 24 hours after his arrest 
or from the commencement of his detention, the burden of 
explanation is on the authorities. 

The Constitution was amended in 1988 to allow the police to 
hold people suspected of capital offenses for 14 days before 
being brought before a court. Capital offenses include such 
crimes as murder and treason. In practice, suspects of all 
types are often held incommunicado for 2 to 3 weeks before 
being brought to court. Family members often bring law suits 
to compel authorities to produce "missing" prisoners. 

Bail is frec[uently granted in nonpolitical cases. In late 
1991, the courts more frequently granted bail in "political" 
cases than had been the case earlier in the year. When Gitobu 
Imanyara was arrested on sedition charges, which were 
subsequently dropped by the Attorney General, he was denied 
bail, even though he suffered from severe health problems. 
When he was hospitalized in recognition of the threat to his 
health, he was chained to his hospital bed. Luke Obok, an 
associate of Luo politician Oginga Odinga, was charged with 
possessing seditious documents and was repeatedly denied bail. 

Kenya's PPSA allows the State to detain a person indefinitely 
without charges or trial upon a determination "that it is 
necessary for the preservation of public security." 
"Preservation of public security" includes "prevention and 
suppression of rebellion, mutiny, violence, intimidation, . 
disorder and crime, unlawful attempts and conspiracies to 
overthrow the government or the constitution," and several 
other grounds. A formal detention order must be signed and 
published in the Kenya Gazette. There is no judicial review of 
the legality of detention. A board appointed by the President, 
meeting in camera, reviews detention cases every 6 months, but 
its recommendations are not binding. 

The Government has used the PPSA repeatedly in recent years to 
silence opposition. The issue of the three detainees held 
under the Act was a major human rights issue of the first half 
of 1991. Charles Rubia was released on April 12, Kenneth 
Matiba on June 8, and Raila Odinga on June 21, all on health 
grounds. As PPSA detainees, they were never formally charged. 
Rubia and Matiba subsecjuently sought medical treatment abroad; 
Raila Odinga was denied a passport to travel for treatment. 
Lawyers, churchmen, and politicians have called for the 
abolition of the PPSA, but the law remains in force. 

Former MP Koigi Wa Wamwere, arrested in 1990 on charges of 
treason, remained in prison throughout 1991 awaiting trial. 
According to Kenyan authorities, Wamwere was arrested in 
possession of a secret cache of arms, which he intended to use 
to overthrow the Kenyan Government. He claims to have been 
kidnaped from Uganda and brought by the Kenyans to Nairobi, 
where he says the arms were planted on him. On December 16, 
Koigi 's lawyers protested to the High Court that all 7 
defendants in the case suffered from harsh prison conditions, 
including solitary confinement 23 hours a day, a substandard 
diet, lack of family visits, and cells without blankets or 
mattresses . 

On September 24, the police arrested Ahmed Salim Bamahriz, a 
founding member of the Forum for the Restoration of Democracy, 
in Nairobi after President Moi publicly called for harsh 
measures against troublemakers. The police said his arrest was 



178 



KENYA 

unrelated to his political views and pertained instead to an 
unspecified criminal matter related to his business dealings. 
Bamahriz was taken to Mombasa, questioned, and released. 

In many other cases, Kenyans were visited and questioned by the 
police or held in police custody for periods ranging from a few 
hours to several days without being charged or officially 
detained under any specific authority. The purpose seemed to 
be the intimidation of critics of the Government. Several 
priests and ministers, such as the head of the Kenya National 
Evangelism Fellowship Church, have been questioned in this 
fashion. 

From May 8 to 10, the police interrogated the 82-year-old 
father of the Reverend Timothy Njoya. Njoya, a minister of the 
Presbyterian Church of East Africa and well known government 
critic, later issued a statement saying the interrogation was 
meant to pressure his father to disown him. 

On August 7, the police picked up three farmers from Nakuru 
district, holding and questioning them for a week for allegedly 
belonging to an antigovernment political party and recruiting 
other members. They denied all these charges, and one claimed 
that he was tortured by the police. 

Traditionally, the Government has used neither exile nor the 
threat of exile as a means of intimidation or punishment. At 
the end of October, Raila Odinga fled Kenya after government 
harassment for his political beliefs and received asylum in 
Norway. In 1991 the Government appealed to politically 
motivated emigres abroad to return to join in Kenyan nation 
building. Early in 1991, some of the exiles asked for 
government guarantees that they would not be rearrested on 
arrival. Later that year, some of them indicated they wished 
to return as a result of the restoration of multiparty 
democracy to Kenya. According to press accounts, in a December 
18 speech President Moi said that exiles who left Kenya without 
passports should not expect to receive them now. 

e. Denial of Fair Public Trial 

Kenya's legal system, as defined in the Judicature Act of 1967, 
is based on the Constitution, laws passed by Parliament, and 
common law or court precedent. Customary law is used as a 
guide in civil matters affecting people of the same ethnic 
group so long as it does not conflict with statutory law. 
Kenya does not have the jury system. The court system consists 
of the Court of Appeals, the High Court, and two levels of 
magistrates' courts where most criminal and civil cases 
originate. In 1989 Justice Dugdale decided the courts have no 
power to enforce the Kenyan Bill of Rights. Applications for 
habeas corpus have never been successful in the High Court. 

Civilians are tried in civilian courts, and verdicts may be 
appealed to the Kenyan High Court and ultimately to the Court 
of Appeals. Kenyans do not have a right to legal counsel at 
state expense except in certain capital cases. Most persons 
tried for capital offenses are provided counsel free of charge 
if they cannot afford it. Military personnel are tried by 
military courts, and verdicts may be appealed. Attorneys for 
military personnel are appointed on a case by case basis by the 
Chief Justice. 

The President has extensive powers over the judiciary. He 
appoints the Chief Justice and the Attorney General and 
appoints High Court judges with the advice of the Judicial 



179 



KENYA 

Service Commission. His power was significantly increased 
through constitutional amendments adopted in 1986 and 1988, 
which gave him discretionary authority to dismiss judges, the 
Attorney General, and certain other officials. In late 1990, 
this power of dismissal was restricted when Parliament adopted 
a constitutional amendment specifying that the President may 
only dismiss those officials upon the recommendation of a 
special, presidentially appointed tribunal. Some hailed this 
as a restoration of the security of judicial tenure, but many 
lawyers criticized it as inadequate to restore judicial 
independence. The amendments have not yet been tested because 
there has been no government effort to date to remove from 
office an officer affected. 

A number of trials stemming from Kenya's sedition laws were 
concluded in 1991. The Reverend Lawford Ndege Imunde, 
convicted of seditious publication on the strength of a private 
diary entry, had his sentence commuted to time served, although 
the conviction was not overturned. 

Press reporting of the sedition trial of George Anyona and his 
three codefendants underlined the problematic character of the 
verdict, which was based on circumstantial evidence. Anyona 
and his three codefendants met in a bar on July 11, 1990, just 
after Nairobi was shaken by rioting on July 7. The men were 
arrested, charged with plotting the overthrow of the 
Government, and held without bail for a year. 

When the trial was concluded in July 1991, all four men were 
convicted and given 7-year sentences. The prosecution 
maintained that the defendants met in a private room to discuss 
the overthrow of the Government, but no witnesses came forward 
to substantiate this claim. The Government's case depended on 
documents, found in the possession of the accused, which were 
held to be seditious. One was a piece of paper with the words 
"Charles" and "Ken;" the prosecution said the words referred to 
Charles Matiba and Kenneth Rubia, two of the detainees released 
in 1991. The other most incriminating piece of evidence was 
the so-called shadow cabinet list, a list of government 
positions paired with the names of government critics. The 
prosecution held that the list demonstrated plans to overthrow 
the Government and replace ministerial positions from the ranks 
of the ant i government activists; the defense said the document 
was a crude forgery planted on Anyona by the police. Under 
Kenyan law, any publication calculated to excite "hatred or 
disaffection" toward the Government is deemed seditious. Some 
of the publications found in the possession of the accused and 
alleged to be seditious have never been banned in Kenya. 
Anyona and his codefendants appealed their convictions. The 
case is to be heard in February 1992. 

Defendants have occasionally been denied the right to employ 
legal counsel of their choice. Kenya theoretically permits all 
commonwealth lawyers to practice and also employs British 
judges, including the Chief Justice. Yet in 1991 two 
defendants, Mirugi Kariuki and Paul Muite, were denied the 
right to employ British barristers in their defense. 

In some cases, legislation precludes a fair trial. A relic of 
the colonial period, the Chief's Authority Act gives low-level 
administration officials, called chiefs, wide-ranging powers, 
including the power to arrest and hold persons and to restrict 
a person's movement without trial. The Kenya Law Reform 
Commission has recommended that the law be abolished. 



50-726 - 92 



180 



KENYA 

f . Arbitrary Interference with Privacy, Family, Home, or 
Correspondence 

Generally, judicially issued search warrants are required and 
obtained, but searches without warrants are allowed under the 
Constitution in certain instances "to promote the public 
benefit," including in security cases. Security officials also 
conduct searches without warrants to apprehend suspected 
criminals or to seize property suspected to be stolen. Homes 
of suspected dissidents have been searched without warrants, 
and evidence so obtained has been admissible to support 
convictions. 

Security forces reportedly employ a variety of surveillance 
techniques, including electronic surveillance and a network of 
informers. Political activists have been subject to police 
surveillance as have some of their visitors. Paul Muite, 
Gitobu Imanyara, and ex-detainee Raila Odinga all experienced 
physical attacks which appear to have had a political 
motivation. In the most serious of these incidents, Raila 
Odinga, while driving family members in his car, was hit by a 
stone and subsequently required hospitalization. Former Vice 
President Oginga Odinga alleges that an unsuccessful break-in 
of his house in May was an attempt to plant arms in his house 
prior to his arrest. At the time of Gitobu Imanyara 's arrest 
in March, on the grounds of seditious publication (Section 
2.a.), both his home and the offices of the Nairobi Law Monthly 
were searched without a warrant. 

Section 2 Respect for Civil Liberties, Including: 

a. Freedom of Speech and Press 

The Constitution provides for freedom of speech and press and 
outlaws discrimination against any Kenyan on grounds of 
political opinion. However, there are numerous restrictions 
and inhibitions on the exercise of free speech, although they 
are not consistently effective. The legality of the Nairobi 
Law Monthly has been upheld; and some public figures, 
churchmen, and former Members of Parliament, have spoken 
vigorously against the Government. A number of prosecutions 
for sedition were withdrawn in 1991, but enough were carried 
through to create a climate in which free debate is discouraged 
and sometimes penalized. Kenyans have been charged with such 
offenses as wearing a badge with a V symbol, which was 
interpreted as "creating a disturbance" by seeming to advocate 
multiparty politics. In another case, a woman was charged with 
creating a disturbance for saying that there is "no justice" 
under the present Government. Some small businesses in Kenya 
have been fined by the police for the offense of operating 
without displaying a picture of the President, even though no 
law requires such display. 

Free speech and association in Kenya is also inhibited by an 
atmosphere of repression created when KANU and government 
officials make public statements threatening violence or 
repression against dissidents. At a public rally. Minister of 
Energy Biwott threatened that if Paul Muite were jailed he 
"might not come out alive." President Moi himself publicly 
called on KANU members to "act as agitators," and on another 
occasion to deal firmly with troublemakers. In September, as 
tensions role in anticipation of the planned October 5 
demonstration. Energy Minister Biwott and 19 Rift Valley M.P.s 
threatened in a rally to "crush" the Forum for the Restoration 
of Democracy (FORD) and told the populace to "arm themselves" 



181 



KENYA 

against FORD. At a similar rally. Minister of State Barudi 
Nabwera urged KANU youthwingers to "do the needful," a clear 
threat, if they encountered FORD organizers. 

One television station and all radio stations are owned and 
controlled by the Government. A second television station is 
owned by KANU and adheres to self-imposed guidelines. The 
KANU-owned outlet carries Cable News Network programs, 
generally without restriction, although at times stories about 
Kenya have been deleted. Privately owned newspapers and 
journals are published in Kenya, and there is no systematic 
censorship of the press. However, in early 1991 some 
publications were seized, and until late 1991 the press 
practiced self-censorship and confined its commentary within 
usually understood but legally undefined limits. Further, 
press members were subject to intimidation by persons 
associated with the Government. Despite these limitations, 
Kenyan press reporting on local issues remains spirited, and, 
after the constitutional changes in late 1991, there was a 
significant increase in press commentary critical of the 
Government and, most notably, the President. 

Newspapers, magazines, and books from abroad are readily 
available. In late 1991, Kenya ceased to exclude individual 
editions of foreign papers which contained articles critical of 
Kenya. More than 100 foreign journalists representing Western 
news organizations operate from Nairobi. 

Free speech won a notable victory in Kenya when the Attorney 
General dropped all sedition charges against Gitobu Imanyara 
and subsequently lifted the ban on the Nairobi Law Monthly. 
Imanyara was first charged with sedition in 1990 because of the 
Nairobi Law Monthly's coverage of the multiparty debate. 
Imanyara was taken into custody for the second time on sedition 
charges in March, when the Nairobi Law Monthly published an 
editorial claiming that the Government distributed jobs in 
state-owned companies on the basis of ethnicity. Imanyara 's 
printer was heavily fined for pviblishing the magazine without 
posting a legally required bond. On May 28, following strong 
domestic and international criticism, the Government released 
Imanyara and dropped all sedition charges against him. On July 
4, the ban on the Nairobi Law Monthly was officially lifted, 
thus upholding an October 1990 judgment suspending the ban. 
Several other magazines, however, are still proscribed. 
Several plays, including a Kiswahili translation of "Animal 
Farm" and a Dario Fo play about a rent strike, have been 
censored. 

Possession, distribution, or publication of banned writing is 
subject to a punishment of up to 7 years' imprisonment. 
Several persons were charged and convicted of this offense in 
1991. In December, after the announcement of the change to 
multipartyism, the press continued to report cases of citizens 
charged with the possession of seditious literature. None of 
these cases has yet come to court since the constitutional 
change was recommended. 

Another case dramatizing the limits of free speech in Kenya was 
the injunction issued by the High Court against Paul Muite, 
chairman of the Law Society of Kenya (LSK) and other members of 
the Law Society council. Muite, in his acceptance speech as 
chairman, had urged the registration of the National Democratic 
Party (see Section 2.b.). 



182 



KENYA 

Progovernment members of the LSK sought the injunction against 
Muite to prevent him from speaking on political topics in his 
capacity as LSK chairman. In May Muite, along with other LSK 
council members, published a statement criticizing the record 
of legal judgments by British expatriate judges, including 
Justice Dugdale. Alleging that Muite had violated the 
injunction forbidding him to pronounce on political topics, 
four lawyers brought an action for contempt of court against 
Muite. To do so, they were required to ask the duty judge for 
leave for the action to go forward; the judge who granted leave 
was Dugdale. The Attorney General has stated that the 
Government has no involvement in this case and that it is 
private suit brought by one group of lawyers against another. 
On October 23, the Court of Appeal found Muite and his 
colleagues guilty of contempt of court for disobeying an 
injunction prohibiting them from making political statements. 
They were ordered to pay a fine of approximately $350. 

b. Freedom of Peaceful Assembly and Association 

Freedom of assembly, while provided for in the Constitution, is 
seriously limited by the Public Order and Police Act, which 
gives authorities power to control public gatherings, defined 
as meetings of three or more persons. It is illegal to convene 
an unlicensed meeting. The ban does not extend to persons 
meeting on church property for religious purposes. On April 
28, the Reverend Timothy Njoya of the Presbyterian Church of 
East Africa, known for his advocacy of multiparty politics, 
held an open air prayer meeting without a license. Before the 
meeting began, police in riot gear confronted the gathering of 
300 people. Security personnel beat up several journalists and 
took their cameras, and government figures criticized Njoya for 
leading his parishioners to confrontation. On July 28, the 
Church of the Province of Kenya (CPK) and the Law Society of 
Kenya proposed to call believers to a session of prayers for 
peace and justice. According to a schedule published 
beforehand, the prayers were to cover many of the issues on the 
dissident agenda. The Government refused a request for a 
license to hold a procession before the prayers, and the 
meeting was called off after the authorities exerted 
considerable pressure on the churchmen. 

The FORD attempted to hold an unlicensed political meeting on 
November 16. A number of FORD members and presumed 
sympathizers were picked up before the day of the meeting; 
others were arrested on their way to the meeting. In spite of 
some stone throwing clashes with the police, the crowd was 
essentially peaceful. At least 87 people were arrested for 
participating in the banned gathering or urging others to do 
so. Charges against most of the FORD members and prominent 
sympathizers were swiftly dropped, but the outcome of the 
charges against many ordinary citizens arrested in connection 
with the rally is still unclear. After the announcement of the 
change to multiparty democracy, Nairobi saw a number of 
spontaneous small street demonstrations which dispersed on 
their own accord without police intervention, but on December 9 
the police broke up a peaceful pro-FORD demonstration and 
arrested 17 people. However, on January 18, 1992, the 
Government authorized a FORD rally in downtown Nairobi. Over 
100,000 persons attended the event, which unfolded peacefully. 

Freedom of association is governed by the Societies Act, which 
states that every association must be registered or exempted 
from registration by the Registrar of Societies. In February 
Jaramogi Oginga Odinga, Kenya's first Vice President, attempted 



183 



KENYA 

to register a new political party, the National Democratic 
Party (NDP) . The request was refused under section 2(A) of the 
Constitution, which makes Kenya a one-party state. The NDP 
argued without success that it was not a political party in the 
proscribed sense, since it did not plan to field electoral 
candidates, but- would confine itself to propagating its views 
on political topics, especially regarding the elimination of 
section 2(A) of the Constitution. Later in the year, Oginga 
Odinga joined with others to propose a new grouping, the Forum 
for the Restoration of Democracy. FORD members urged Kenyans 
to form themselves into 9-member groups, since only 
associations of 10 or more members legally require registration. 

President Moi denounced the FORD as "the NDP in disguise" and 
termed it "illegal" and nonexistent. One FORD organizer, Ahmed 
Salim Bamahriz, is an elected member of the Mombasa municipal 
council. When Bahmariz announced his association with the 
FORD, attempts were made to suspend him from KANU and to strip 
him of his councillorship. In September Bamahriz and other 
FORD members were "deregistered" from KANU by the KANU special 
delegates' conference. There is, however, no provision at all 
for deregistration in the KANU constitution. KANU, having 
agreed under pressure in 1990 to stop expelling members as a 
disciplinary measure, seems to be looking for other names under 
which to achieve the same effect: suppressing dissent in its 
ranks. It is not yet clear whether expulsions will become more 
or less common now that Kenyans are legally free to form and 
join parties other than KANU. 

c. Freedom of Religion 

Kenya has no state religion. Freedom of worship is 
acknowledged in the Constitution and generally allowed, but 
churches new to Kenya must obtain government approval to be 
registered. Some church figures have voiced concern about a 
new bill to regulate nongovernmental organizations (NGO's) in 
Kenya, which might impose some government controls over church 
projects. NGO's will henceforth have to reregister every 5 
years, and those deemed not to act in the public interest may 
suffer deregistration 

Throughout 1991 activist churchmen were denounced by Parliament 
and the press, and the organizers of the abortive July 28 
prayer meeting, sponsored jointly by the Law Society of Kenya, 
the Church of the Province of Kenya, and the National Council 
of Christian Churches, were subjected to government pressure 
(see Section 2 .b. ) . 

d. Freedom of Movement Within the Country, Foreign 
Travel, Emigration, and Repatriation 

Kenyans may travel freely within the country. In September 
several Rift Valley politicians attending a political rally 
purported to "ban" members of the FORD from entering the 
Valley. They threatened reprisals against members of the 
Kikuyu ethnic group and multiparty supporters settled in the 
region. Implementation of these proposals is unlikely. Kenyan 
law gives all Kenyans the right to settle and conduct business, 
which includes obtaining land titles, in any area of the 
country. 

Kenya does not generally prohibit emigration of its citizens 
but on occasion does prevent travel abroad by critics of the 
Government. The Government does not regard issuance of 
passports to citizens as a right and reserves the authority to 



184 



KENYA 

issue or deny passports at its discretion. In 1991 the 
Government seized or declined to issue passports to over 20 
Kenyans. In two cases, the Government seized the passports of 
persons returning from abroad who had made political speeches 
during their trips. 

In July labor leader Dennis Akumu and former parliamentarian 
Martin Shikuku were removed from an aircraft they had boarded 
to travel to London. Their passports were not taken, but their 
right to travel was denied without any administrative or 
judicial proceeding. 

In 1991 large numbers of Somali and Ethiopian refugees fled to 
Kenya after their governments collapsed. Kenya has accepted 
most asylum seekers, though sometimes entry is delayed, 
resulting in hardship and denial of assistance, and many 
suffered police harassment. Thirty-seven Somali asylxim seekers 
drowned when the Kenya Navy towed their boats to the open sea. 
(see Section l.a.). 

None of these refugees has been granted legal status other than 
that of asylum seeker. About 50,000 refugees reside in camps, 
and at least double that number live outside the camps, in 
cities as well as rural areas. Refugees outside of the camps 
are extremely vulnerable to arrest. Refugees who purchase fake 
identity papers and visas put themselves even further at risk. 
Conditions in the camps have caused several riots, one of which 
led to a number of hospitalizations. The Government promised 
to investigate the incident but has yet to do so. 

Section 3 Respect for Political Rights: The Right of Citizens 
to Change Their Government 

Citizens in 1991 had neither the right nor the ability to 
change the one party system of government through the electoral 
process. However, the year-end recommendations for 
constitutional change would permit multiparty elections by 
mid-1993 at the latest, which, if conducted freely and fairly, 
would give Kenyans this right. At year's end, it was not clear 
whether independent, as well as party-based candidates, would 
be permitted to contest the elections. Although the President 
said that each electoral district will be contested by a single 
KANU candidate, since the KANU nomination process was abolished 
in June, the selection mechanism within KANU remained unclear. 

Section 4 Governmental Attitude Regarding International and 

Nongovernmental Investigation of Alleged Violations 
of Human Rights 

There are no local organizations solely devoted to 
investigating human rights abuses, but the Law Society of 
Kenya, some church groups, some periodicals, a few 
organizations, and individual attorneys function as de facto 
human rights monitors. However, through most of 1991 they 
faced serious obstacles, including harsh government criticism, 
restrictions on free speech and assembly, and, in some cases, 
torture and harassment by the police (see Section l.a.). The 
Government reacts negatively to criticism of its human rights 
record, at home and abroad, and through its accusations of 
association with "foreign masters" discourages Kenyans from 
providing outside human rights groups with information. 



185 



KENYA 

Section 5 Discrimination Based on Race, Sex, Religion, 
Language, or Social Status 

Kenya's Constitution and laws prohibit discrimination on the 
basis of race, sex, religion, language, or social status. 
However, the situation of Kenyans of Somali ethnic origin is a 
major concern. Ethnic Somalis are the only ethnic group in 
Kenya for which the Government requires an additional form of 
identification, stating that they are Kenyan citizens. 

In 1990 the Government reqiiired that ethnic Somalis have their 
claim to Kenyan citizenship verified through a "screening" 
process involving verification by a panel of Somali elders. 
This screening effort continued through the first 3 months of 
1990 and then was phased out, although its practical effects 
remained. The screening has been widely criticized as 
discriminatory, unconstitutional, and without basis in law. 
Ethnic Somalis must still produce upon demand their Kenyan 
identification card and a second identification verifying 
"screening." Both cards are also required to apply for a 
passport, and airlines have been required to submit passports 
held by Kenyan Somalis for verification before issuing tickets 
to such persons. 

Members of all ethnic groups may run for office, and ethnic 
representation at the minister and assistant minister level is 
broad. The Asian community, numbering about 65,000, accounts 
for a disproportionate share of the nation's economic wealth 
and output, but very few Asians participate in electoral 
politics. The Kikuyu remain the largest and richest ethnic 
group in Kenya. But anti-Kikuyu language from ministers and 
other officials entered the public domain in 1991 without 
official rebuke, particularly in connection with Kikuyu land 
purchases in areas traditionally inhabited by other tribes. 

While there is no legal discrimination against women, 
traditional culture and attitudes have long prescribed limited 
roles for women. Women's roles are particularly restricted in 
rural areas where they account for 75 percent of the total 
agricultural work force. Rural families are more reluctant to 
invest in educating girls than in educating boys, especially at 
the higher levels. The number of girls and boys in school are 
roughly equal at the primary and secondary levels, but men 
outnumber women by almost two to one in higher education. 

Though women are increasingly active in the modern economy, the 
number of women in professional roles is still limited. The 
number of female unemployed is double that of men. Women 
sometimes receive lower rates of pay than men performing the 
same job, and disparities in fringe benefits occur, e.g., some 
businesses give housing allowances to men but not to married 
women. Women are legally able to own property and businesses. 

Polygamy is not legal for people married under the Christian 
Marriage Act, but it is permitted for those who marry under 
African customary law. Kenya's law of succession, which 
governs inheritance rights, provides for equal treatment of 
male and female children. 

The Government strongly condemns extreme violence towards 
women, specifically murder, female circumcision, rape, and 
incest. In many cases, rapists, particularly of minors, are 
given sentences of up to 14 years in prison. However, the 
ambivalence of Kenyans to the abuse of women was graphically 
demonstrated by the public response to a case of multiple rape 



186 



KENYA 

and manslaughter at St. Kizito boarding school. In July, on a 
Saturday night when few teachers or staff were at the school, a 
group of 50 adolescent boys attending St. Kizito broke into the 
crowded dormitory housing their female contemporaries. In the 
panic that ensued, 19 girls suffocated, and 71 were raped. 
Despite public expressions of horror at the event, many Kenyans 
acknowledge that rapes are frequent in Kenyan schools. This 
seems borne out by a published comment by the principal of the 
school, who said: "The boys meant no harm, they just wanted to 
rape. " 

Domestic violence occurs in Kenya, but little information is 
available on the extent of the problem. In practice, most 
cases of domestic violence are settled outside of the courts. 
The maximum legal penalty for wife beating is 5 years in 
prison. Women may also sue for civil damages. Female 
circumcision is illegal but still practiced by some Kenyan 
ethnic groups on girls under the age of 16. The Government 
officially discourages the practice but leaves it to women's 
groups to actively oppose female circumcision through health 
education programs. Murder or manslaughter charges are brought 
when circumcisions result in death. There are press reports of 
both male and female community-forced circumcisions, but 
charges are never brought in such cases. 

Section 6 Worker Rights 

a. The Right of Association 

Save for the central Government's civil servants, all workers 
are free to join unions of their own choosing. The law 
provides that as few as seven workers may establish a union, 
provided the objectives of the union do not contravene Kenyan 
law and another union is not already representative of the 
employees in question. The Government may deregister a union, 
but the Registrar of Trade Unions must give the union 60 days 
to challenge the deregistration notice; an appeal of the 
Registrar's final decision may be brought before the High 
Court. The Kenya Civil Servants Union was deregistered more 
than 10 years ago by President Moi. 

There are at least 33 unions in Kenya representing 
approximately 350,0000 to 385,000 workers, or 3 percent of the 
country's work force. Except for the 150,000-165,000 teachers 
believed to be members of the Kenya National Union of Teachers 
and four other smaller unions, which have been registered by 
the Government, all other unions are affiliated with one 
central body, the Central Organization of Trade Unions (COTU) . 
The Government created COTU in 1965 as the successor to both 
the Kenya Federation of Labor and the Kenya African Workers 
Congress. This amalgamation was effected allegedly to 
eliminate instability and rivalries within the nation's trade 
union movement . 

COTU is independent of the Government and KANU in name only. 
The 1965 decree establishing COTU gives the President the power 
to remove from office the central body's senior leaders. Rule 
5 of the COTU constitution accords nonvoting membership on the 
executive board (COTU' j managing body) to a representative of 
the Labor Ministry as well as of KANU. Moreover, COTU and its 
Secretary General Joseph Mugalla are firmly allied with the 
President and KANU against those who advocate greater 
democratization. In June, seeking to keep pliant unionists in 
office, the President offered to underwrite the costs of union 
elections which he had announced some 5 months earlier. At 



187 



KENYA 

year's end, Mugalla was reelected Secrete «:y General, but his 
opponents declared their intention to form a rival 
Confederation. The Court of Appeals enjoined the Registrar 
from certifying the election pending a hearing on a suit 
brought by the opponents . 

The Trade Disputes Act permits workers to strike provided that 
21 days have elapsed following the submission to the Minister 
of Labor of a written report detailing the nature of the 
dispute. During this 21-day period, the Minister may either 
mediate the dispute himself, nominate a person to investigate 
and propose a solution, or refer the matter to the Industrial 
Court, a body of five judges appointed by the President, for 
binding arbitration. Once a dispute is referred to either 
meditation, fact finding, or arbitration, any subsequent strike 
is illegal. 

The military, police, prison guards, and members of the 
National Youth Service are precluded by law from striking. 
Under the Trade Disputes Act, other civil servants, like their 
private sector counterparts, may strike following the 21-day 
notice period (28 days if it is an essential service, e.g. , 
water, health, education, air traffic control). However, the 
Labor Minister may at any time preempt a strike involving civil 
servants by referring the dispute to the Industrial Court for 
resolution. Save for the wildcat strikes involving the bank 
employees in November and Mombasa's dockworkers in December, 
there were no significant strikes in 1991. 

Internationally, COTU is now affiliated to both the 
continentwide Organization of African Trade Union Unity and the 
International Confederation of Free Trade Unions. Its 
affiliates are free to establish links to international trade 
secretariats of their choosing. A veteran trade union leader, 
associated with the political opposition, however, was 
prevented from leaving the country in June (see Section 2.d.). 

b. The Right to Organize and Bargain Collectively 

While not having the force of law, the 1962 Industrial 
Relations Charter, executed by the Government, COTU, and the 
Federation of Kenya Employers, gives workers the right to 
engage in legitimate trade union organizational activities. 
Both the Trade Disputes Act and the Charter authorize 
collective bargaining between unions and employers. Wages and 
conditions of employment are established in the context of 
negotiations between unions and management. The Government has 
promulgated wage policy guidelines limiting wage increases to 
75 percent of the annual rate of inflation. Collective 
bargaining agreements must be registered with the Industrial 
Court for the purpose of guaranteeing adherence to these 
guidelines. In 1990 there were 1,875 agreements registered 
with the court. Some 1 million workers (union and nonunion) 
were covered by these accords. 

The Trade Disputes Act makes it illegal for employers to 
intimidate workers. Employees wrongfully dismissed for union 
activities are generally awarded damages in the form of lost 
wages by the Industrial Court; reinstatement is not a common 
remedy. This is due in large measure to the fact that most 
aggrieved workers have found alternative employment in the 
lengthy period prior to the hearing of their cases. 

While legislation authorizing the creation of export processii^ 
zones was passed in November 1990, such entities have been slow 



188 



KENYA 

to get off the ground. The first such zone, developed by a 
subsidiary of Firestone East Africa, has only succeeded in 
attracting a few investors. The Government has yet to decide 
definitively whether the provisions of the Trade Disputes Act, 
the Trade Unions Act, or the Regulation of Wages and Conditions 
of Employment Act will be extended to the zone (see also 
Section 6.e. ) . 

c. Prohibition of Forced or Compulsory Labor 

The Constitution proscribes slavery, servitude, and forced 
labor. Under the Chiefs' Authority Act, a local authority can 
require people to perform community services in an emergency, 
but there were no known instances of this practice in 1991. 
People so employed must be paid the prevailing wage for such 
employment. The International Labor Organization (ILO) 
Committee of Experts (COE) has found these and other provisions 
of Kenyan law to contravene ILO Conventions 29 and 105 
concerning forced labor. The COE's 1991 report noted the 
Government's intention to repeal or amend the offending 
provisions of the law in order to bring them into compliance 
with the Conventions. The Government, however, has not given a 
definite timetable for the introduction of remedial legislation. 

d. Minimum Age for Employment of Children 

The Employment Act of 1976 proscribes the employment in any 
industrial undertaking of children under the age of 16. This 
enactment applies neither to the agricultural sector, where the 
overwhelming majority of the labor force is employed, nor to 
children serving as apprentices under the terms of the 
Industrial Training Act. Ministry of Labor officers are 
authorized to enforce the minimum age statute. Given the high 
levels of adult unemployment and underemployment, the 
employment of children in the formal wage sector in violation 
of the Employment Act is not a significant problem. 

e. Acceptable Conditions of Work 

The legal minimum wage for workers in the wage sector varies by 
location, age, and skills. On May 10, the minimum wage was 
raised an average of 16 percent. At the bottom rung of the 
adult minimum wage scale is the rural general laborer; the 
highest minimum was paid in Nairobi and Mombasa to drivers of 
heavy commercial vehicles. Violations of the minimum wage 
guidelines are not a recurring problem in the modern wage 
sector. Despite nominal wage increases, inflation over 20 
percent and the precipitous decline in the shilling's value 
substantially eroded workers' living standards during 1991. 
Most workers continued to lead the most marginal of existences. 

The Regulation of Wages and Conditions of Employment Act limits 
the normal workweek to 52 hours. Nighttime employees, however, 
may be employed for 60 hours a week. As is the case with 
respect to minimum age limitations, the Act specifically 
excludes agricultural workers from its purview. An employee in 
the nonagricultural sector is entitled to 1 rest day in a 
week. There are also provisions for annual leave and sick 
leave. Concerning limits on overtime, Kenyan law provides that 
the total hours worked (i.e., regular time plus overtime) in 
any 2-week period by night workers may not exceed 144 hours; 
the limit is 120 hours for other workers. The Ministry of 
Labor is tasked with enforcing these regulations, but reported 
violations are few. 



189 



K ENYA 

The Factories Act of 1951 sets forth detailed health and safety 
standards; the Act was amended in 1990 to encompass the 
agriculture, service, and government sectors. The 65 health 
and safety inspec.tors attached to the Ministry of Labor's 
Directorate of Occupational Health and Safety Services have the 
authority to inspect factories and work sites if they have 
reason to believe that a violation of the Act has occurred, or 
upon receipt of a complaint from a worker . As a result of the 
1990 amendments, the Directorate's inspectors may now issue 
notices enjoining employers from practices or activities which 
involve a risk of serious personal injuries. Previously, only 
magistrates were vested with this authority. 

Such notices may be appealed to the Factories Appeals Court, a 
body of four members, one of whom must be a High Court judge. 
In practice, inspectors, who conduct 2,000 to 3,000 inspections 
annually, generally respond only to worker complaints. 
"Whistle blowers" are not protected by the Factories Act. On 
May 31, the Government exempted enterprises in the export 
processing zones from the occupational health and safety 
requirements of the Factories Act. 



190 



LESOTHO 



Lesotho has been ruled by a six-member Military Council since a 
coup d'etat in 1986 which overthrew the single-party rule of 
Prime Minister Leabua Jonathan. The Council Chairman, Major 
General J. M. Lekhanya, was ousted on April 30, 1991, in an 
internal struggle which caused the dismissal of another Council 
member and the firing of two civilian members of the Cabinet. 
Colonel (now Major General) Elias Phisoana Ramaema was chosen 
by fellow officers in the armed forces to become the new 
Military Council Chairman. Sworn in on May 3, the new Council 
of Ministers is comprised of seven military officers and seven 
civilians; there are two civilian assistant ministers. 

The Military Council rules by decree, while the Council of 
Ministers administers the day-to-day operations of government. 
Shortly after assiiming office. Council Chairman Ramaema lifted 
the 1986 ban on partisan political activity and reaffirmed 
plans to restore constitutional rule — abolished in 1970 by 
former Prime Minister Jonathan — by 1992. The National 
Constituent Assembly, first convened in mid-1990, completed its 
revisions to the 1966 independence Constitution in early July 
and met again in late September to establish a constitutional 
commission to solicit public comments on the revised text, 
prior to final ratification of the document. 

The Royal Lesotho Defense Force (RLDF) of about 2,000 troops is 
responsible for internal and border security. The RLDF is 
assisted by a police force of about 1,600 men and women. 
Members of both forces occasionally beat or otherwise mistreat 
detainees . 

A landlocked country completely surrounded by South Africa, 
Lesotho is almost entirely dependent on its sole neighbor for 
trade, finance, employment, and access to the outside world. 
Approximately 55 percent of the adult male labor force is 
employed in South Africa's mines, and remittances from workers 
(more than $230 million in 1988) are a critical factor in 
financing imports. Economic recession in South Africa has led 
to retrenchments in the mines and a sharp rise in unemployment 
in Lesotho. 

Human rights in Lesotho in 1991 remained circumscribed under 
the military government, but certain aspects of the situation 
improved over previous years. There was some progress toward 
political and constitutional reform and in increased freedom of 
speech, assembly, and association. However, police brutality 
continued, and the security forces used excessive force in 
quelling anti-Asian riots in May, in which many persons were 
killed. No charges were brought against those responsible. 
Other major problems included provisions for lengthy detention 
and severe restrictions on women's rights. At year's end, it 
was still too early to tell how the Government's reform program 
would be implemented, whether it would, in fact, result in 
citizens' ability to change their government, and what effect 
it would have on the observance of other human rights. 

RESPECT FOR HUMAN RIGHTS 

Section 1 Respect for the Integrity of the Person, Including 
Freedom from: 

a. Political and Other Extrajudicial Killing 

Some extrajudicial killings continued to occur. Excesses by 
law enforcement agencies continued, including fatal shootings 



191 



LESOTHO 

in May by police and army personnel attempting to quell violent 
anti-Asian riots which broke out in Maseru and spread to other 
towns in the western lowlands. Official figures put the death 
toll at 35; other reports indicated as many as 80 or more may 
have lost their lives. No charges are known to have been 
brought in those instances . 

In mid-March judgment was handed down by the Chief Justice of 
the High Court in the trial of two military men accused of the 
1986 murders of two former cabinet ministers and their wives. 
Sergeant Ngoana-ngoana Lerotholi was found guilty of murder, 
and Colonel Sekhobe Letsie (a former member of the ruling 
Military Council) was found guilty as an accessory after the 
fact. Both received several concurrent sentences, with Sgt. 
Lerotholi given the death sentence (see Section I.e.). 

b. Disappearance 

There were no reports of politically related disappearances in 
1991, nor were there any further instances of reported 
abductions by South African authorities in Lesotho, as occurred 
in previous years . 

c. Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading 
Treatment or Punishment 

Reports of police brutality, including beatings of detainees, 
continued during 1991. There were a disturbing number of 
reports of random beatings of civilians by police or military 
personnel, especially in the immediate aftermath of the 
violence in late May. No known investigations or other 
official measures were launched as a result of these 
practices. Prison facilities in Lesotho are overcrowded and in 
need of repair. One report indicated a prisoner was held in a 
bathroom ankle-deep in water because all available cells were 
occupied. 

d. Arbitrary Arrest, Detention, or Exile 

In civil and criminal cases, persons arrested or detained have, 
and avail themselves of, the right to immediate consideration 
of habeas corpus appeals as well as the right to legal and 
medical counsel. The 1981 Criminal Procedures and Evidence 
Act, as amended in 1984, makes provision for the granting of 
bail. Under the Act, the High Court is the only judicial body 
empowered to grant bail in cases of armed robbery or suspected 
homicide. 

The Internal Security (General) Act (ISA) of 1984 provides for 
so-called investigative detention without charge or trial in 
political cases for up to 42 days (the first 14 days on order 
of the police; the second 14 days on order of the police 
commissioner; and the final 14 days on order of the Minister of 
Defense and Internal Security) . During the second stage of the 
detention, ministerially appointed "advisers" (all of whom have 
been government employees to date) are available to report on 
the health of the detainee, investigate whether the detainee 
has been involved in subversive activities, and advise the 
Minister of Defense and Internal Security whether there is a 
need for continued detention. Detainees under the Act may make 
representation about their own treatment only through the 
adviser. The Act also allows for detention of witnesses in 
security cases. 



192 



LESOTHO 

In addition, a 1986 amendment to the ISA allows the Minister of 
Defense and Internal Security (currently the Chairman of the 
Military Council) to "restrict" a person who, in the opinion of 
the police commissioner, is conducting himself in a manner 
prejudicial to public order, security, administration of 
justice, or obedience to the law or lawful authority. In 
mid-1991 former Military Council Chairman Lekhanya was first 
limited to an 8-kilometer radius from his home near Maseru and 
then restricted to the bounds of the property itself. No 
reasons were made public for imposition of the latter 
restriction in August, nor for its removal in September. 

An independent journalist, Johnny wa ka Maseko, who was 
expelled from Lesotho in 1988 for printing reports alleging 
high-level corruption, was allowed to return to the country in 
July following the change of government in early May. A South 
African lawyer, who was expelled in 1986, has also been 
permitted to return to Lesotho and has resumed his law practice 
in Maseru. 

Following his dispute with the Military Council in February 
1990 and his subsecjuent exile in London, ex-King Moshoeshoe II 
remained outside the country throughout 1991. The relaxation 
of restrictions on political activity in mid-May opened the way 
for a proroyalist party to advocate publicly for the former 
King's return, and an active debate on the issue took place in 
the opposition press. The Government has repeatedly said the 
former monarch may return, as a private citizen, without other 
conditions . 

e. Denial of Fair Piiblic Trial 

The judiciary consists of the Court of Appeal (which meets 
semiannually), the High Court, magistrate's courts, and 
customary or traditional courts, which exist largely in rural 
areas to administer customary law. Judges on the High Court 
are relatively independent; however, the Chief Justice, an 
expatriate who serves a 2-year appointment, may be under some 
pressure to act in ways that will ensure reappointment. 
Magistrates appear more susceptible to governmental influence. 
Court decisions and rulings are respected by the authorities 
and are generally free of interference by the executive. 
Accused persons have and use the right to counsel and public 
trials. The courts have acted to limit infringements of law on 
numerous occasions in past years, e.g., the April 1988 
annulment on procedural grounds of the State of Emergency, 
which, however, the Government quickly reinstituted. 

Under the system of Roman-Dutch law applied in Lesotho, there 
is no trial by jury. Criminal trials are normally adjudicated 
by a single High Court judge who presides with two assessors, 
who serve in an advisory capacity. In civil cases, judges 
normally hear cases alone. The High Court also provides 
procedural and substantive advice and guidance on matters of 
legal procedure to military tribunals; however, it does not 
participate in arriving at judgments. Military tribunals have 
jurisdiction only over military cases. 

A judicial inquest may be initiated by the Attorney General on 
the authority of the Judicial Inquest Proclamation Number 32 of 
1954. In November 1989, he initiated such an inquiry into the 
1986 slayings of two former cabinet ministers and their wives. 
In March 1991, the High Court ruled on murder charges against 
two senior soldiers accused of these killings, finding one 
guilty of murder and the other guilty as an accessory after the 



193 



LESOTHO 

fact. The case was heard in open court by the Chief Justice 
(who ruled on matters of law), accompanied by two civilian 
assessors (who ruled with him on matters of fact). Public 
attendance was high throughout the trial, which was conducted 
fairly and in accordance with Roman-Dutch judicial procedures. 
Appeal is automatic in the event of a death sentence, and 
Colonel Letsie also gave notice of appeal. In light of the 
sheer volume of testimony resulting from this 6-month case, it 
was anticipated that the appeal would not be heard before the 
middle of 1992 at the earliest. 

There were no known political prisoners in Lesotho at the end 
of 1991. 

f . Arbitrary Interference with Privacy, Family, Home, or 
Correspondence 

In 1991 there were fewer reports of violations of individual 
privacy by state authorities. Although search warrants are 
usually required under normal circiomstances, the ISA provides 
police with wide powers to stop and search persons and vehicles 
and to enter homes and other places for similar purposes 
without a warrant. Police conducted extensive searches of 
private homes in residential areas, especially around Maseru, 
in the wake of the riots in late May, looking for stolen 
property. Several hundred persons were arrested and charged 
with possession of stolen goods. Correspondence appears to be 
monitored occasionally by government officials. 

Section 2 Respect for Civil Liberties, Including: 

a. Freedom of Speech and Press 

The Human Rights Act of 1983 provides for freedom of expression 
but subordinates this freedom to the needs of national 
security. The proposed revised constitution includes a lengthy 
section on protection of fundamental hioman rights and freedoms, 
based primarily on the 1966 Constitution; all parties agree 
with the Government on the need for some such bill of rights. 

Following the 1986 coup, a formal ban on politics was announced 
with stringent restrictions on freedom of speech and political 
assembly. In particular. Government Order No. 4 of 1986 
prohibited persons and groups from making political speeches 
and from publishing or distributing political party materials. 
This order was lifted on May 13, 1991, and political parties 
became active in the weeks thereafter. Even before the ban on 
organized political party activity was lifted, members of seven 
of Lesotho's registered political parties participated actively 
in debates on a wide range of political issues in the 
Constituent Assembly. Debate in the Constituent Assembly was 
frequently lively and was often critical of the Government; 
daily reports were broadcast on the radio, and most weekly 
papers carried some report of the discussions. 

The Government controls the official media (one radio station, 
a half-hour daily newscast on a local television channel, and 
two weekly newspapers) and ensures that they faithfully reflect 
official views. The Government rarely uses them to attack its 
partisan critics. Opposition viewpoints were routinely 
expressed in 1991 in two Sesotho-language weekly newspapers 
published by the Roman Catholic Church and the Lesotho 
Evangelical Church and in one independent English-language 
weekly. (Another independent weekly and a bimonthly magazine 
ceased publication in 1991 for financial reasons.) • 



194 



LESOTHO 

Academic freedom is generally respected, although some 
professors and students complain about restrictions on their 
ability to discuss academic and political issues. Beginning in 
July, the National University banned partisan political 
activity on campus — in part because several faculty members had 
joined a new party, and there were fears the university would 
suffer reprisals from other party followers. Student 
representatives openly criticized the Government and called for 
greater academic and political freedoms during public 
ceremonies; no reprisals were known to have taken place. 

b. Freedom of Peaceful Assembly and Association 

The military Government's ban on "politics" was not interpreted 
to require the dissolution of existing political parties, but 
the ban did preclude political gatherings and rallies until it 
was lifted in May. Following its lifting, party meetings and 
rallies took place throughout the country, limited only by the 
requirement for prior police notification. All meetings of the 
appointed Constituent Assembly in 1991 were open to the 
public. Nonpolitical organizations and professional groups are 
freely formed, even encouraged, and are allowed to hold public 
and regular meetings. 

c. Freedom of Religion 

There is no state religion in Lesotho. Free and open religious 
practice is permitted and encouraged. Christianity is the 
dominant faith of the majority of Basotho, and Roman 
Catholicism has the most adherents, although less than half of 
the population. There is a significant Protestant minority 
composed of the Lesotho Evangelical Church, the T^glican 
Church, and a number of other smaller denominations. 
Conversion is permitted, and there is no apparent social or 
political benefit or stigma attached to belonging to any 
particular church. There are no barriers to missionary 
activity or work by foreign clergy. 

d. Freedom of Movement Within the Country, Foreign 
Travel, Emigration, and Repatriation 

Citizens generally are allowed to move freely within the 
country and across national boundaries. In July, however, the 
Minister of Interior ordered a prominent attorney to surrender 
his international passport just before he was due to emplane 
for London to attend a human rights conference sponsored by the 
former King. Asserting that passports remain government 
property, officials claimed there had been complaints from 
other African governments over the subversive nature of the 
conference and that travel for such purposes was in violation 
of the laws governing passport eligibility. By late September, 
the passport had been returned to the attorney. The Government 
places no obstacles in the way of its own citizens who wish to 
emigrate. 

There are currently about 220 refugees registered with the 
United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) who have 
been granted asylum in Lesotho, the majority unaffiliated South 
Africans. The local office of the UNHCR also reports over 
4,000 South Africans in "refugee-like status," most of whom 
have lived in Lesotho for many years. There is no forced 
resettlement of refugees. 



195 



LESOTHO 

Section 3 Respect for Political Rights: The Right of Citizens 
to Change Their Government 

Citizens of Lesotho currently do not have the freedom to change 
their government. However, in 1990 the military Government 
announced its intention to hand over power to a democratically 
elected government by the middle of 1992. In June 1990, it 
convened a National Constituent Assembly which in July 1991 
completed revisions to the independence Constitution of 1966. 
A constitutional commission, drawn primarily from members of 
the Assembly, held a series of 47 public meetings in late 1991 
to discern public opinion before the final text is approved. 
Voter registration for the 1992 elections began December 18. 
At the end of the year, plans call for Lesotho to remain a 
kingdom, under a constitutional monarch, with multiple parties 
vying for leadership of a democratically elected Parliament, 
and an independent judiciary. All Basotho citizens over the 
age of 21 will have the right to vote. There are 15 registered 
political parties, including one formed by, but not limited to, 
women . 

Section 4 Governmental Attitude Regarding International and 

Nongovernmental Investigation of Alleged Violations 
of Human Rights 

The Government in general has not been responsive on human 
rights issues, particularly when the call for outside 
investigation emanated from the domestic political opposition. 
There are no internal organizations which concentrate on human 
rights, either official or nongovernmental, although church and 
other groups occasionally address human rights issues. There 
are no overt restrictions on the establishment of such 
organizations. Reports of alleged human rights abuses are 
sometimes carried in the local press, particularly the church 
newspapers and Lesotho's major independent weekly. There have 
been no reports of reprisals against human rights activists 
(primarily lawyers and clergy). 

Section 5 Discrimination Based on Race, Sex, Religion, 
Language, or Social Status 

Most citizens of Lesotho speak a common language and share 
common historical and cultural traditions. Asians (primarily 
ethnic Chinese and Indians) and South African whites are active 
in the country's commercial life. In 1987 the Government 
formulated a policy aimed at "localization" of Lesotho's 
commercial retail trade and, under the Trading Enterprise 
Order, called on foreign owners to enter into joint ventures 
with Basotho nationals. Equity transfers would entail 
compensation. To date, the localization order has not been 
strictly enforced because of difficulties in identifying local 
entrepreneurs to take over foreign-owned businesses, problems 
in financing such takeovers, and concern over foreign reaction. 

In late May, violence based on economic frustrations broke out 
against small-scale merchants of Asian origin. Numerous 
Chinese and Indian stores were burned or looted, police and 
army troops were called in to quell the rioting, and over 35 
people were killed (see Sections I.e. and l.f.). Government 
officials were quick to reassure foreign investors that the 
anti-Asian violence did not reflect government policy, and the 
incidents were not repeated. 

Although the question was briefly debated in the Constituent 
Assembly in 1990, the Government has still not seriously 



196 



LESOTHO 

addressed the issue of women's rights. In Lesotho these rights 
are severely limited by both law and custom, including in the 
area of property, inheritance, and contracts, but women do have 
the legal and customary right to make a will and sue for 
divorce. Under Lesotho's customary law, a married woman is 
considered a minor during the lifetime of her husband, with all 
of the legal limitations that this status implies. She cannot 
enter into any legally binding contract, whether for 
employment, commerce, or education, without her husband's 
consent. A woman married under customary law has no standing 
in court and may not sue or be sued without her husband's 
permission. Despite their second-class status, women in 
Lesotho traditionally have been the stabilizing force in the 
home and in the agricultural sector, given the absence of over 
100,000 Basotho men who work in South Africa. More female than 
male children complete primary and secondary schools. 

Domestic violence, including wife beating, occurs, but, as 
statistics are not available, the extent of the problem is not 
known. In Basotho tradition a wife may return to her "maiden 
home" if physically abused by her husband; in the common law, 
wife beating is a criminal offense and defined as assault. A 
1976 High Court case successfully reversed a Roman-Dutch legal 
tradition which recognized a husband's right to chastise his 
wife at will. While the Government has made some attempts in 
the past to improve the economic prospects of women, no direct 
action was taken in 1991 to improve their subordinate status in 
society. Women's rights organizations are forming, including a 
partnership of women lawyers which has expressed interest in 
handling such cases. The local chapter of the International 
Federation of Woman Lawyers has taken a lead role in educating 
Basotho women as to their rights under customary and common law. 

Section 6 Worker Rights 

a. The Right of Association 

Workers have the legal right to join or form unions without 
prior government authorization. Roughly 60 percent of 
Lesotho's active male labor force between the ages of 20 and 44 
seeks work in the Republic of South Africa, mainly in gold and 
coal mines. At least 70 percent of the remainder is engaged in 
traditional agriculture. The rest are employed mainly by the 
Government and in small industries and enterprises in Lesotho. 
A majority of Basotho mineworkers are members of the South 
African National Union of Mineworkers (MUM) . Because the NUM 
is a foreign organization, it is not permitted to engage in 
union activities in Lesotho. 

Like its predecessor, which since 1988 had been trying to 
arrange a merger between Lesotho's two competing federations, 
the current Government supported the formation of a single, 
umbrella trade union center. Deep philosophical, political, 
and ideological differences between the two federations impeded 
efforts to consolidate. In 1991, however, the Lesotho Congress 
of Free Trade Unions, which encompassed 24 affiliated 
independent trade unions, and the Lesotho Federation of Trade 
Unions which had 4, merged into one federation, the Lesotho 
Labor Congress (LLC), representing the majority of unionized 
workers. It remained to be seen at year's end to what extent 
the new federation will be free of governmental or partisan 
control . 

Unionized workers represent only 10 percent of the total work 
force, and the LLC accounts for three-guarters of those union 



197 



LESOTHO 

members. Four of the newer, more politicized unions did not 
join the LLC but have instead formed the Congress of Democratic 
Unions. Because the Government wants only one labor central, 
it has not granted recognition to this umbrella organization, 
even though all four of its member unions are legally 
registered. 

While a legal right to strike exists for workers in 
nonessential services, in practice the procedure for calling a 
strike is so lengthy and cumbersome that it discourages legal 
strike actions and accounts for the prevalence of wildcat 
strikes. The 1964 Trade Union and Trade Disputes Act 
enumerates lengthy procedures which must be followed before a 
strike is called. There were several, usually short, wildcat 
strikes in 1991 against both foreign and domestic companies, 
mostly over wages and conditions of work. Most were resolved 
through compulsory government arbitration. A particularly 
bitter strike broke out in July, with members of the Lesotho 
Union of Bank Employees walking out when the management of two 
foreign-owned international banks refused their demand for a 
40-percent wage increase. Noting that the banking sector had 
been ruled an "essential" service, the banks fired the striking 
employees and reopened using managerial staff and newly hired 
trainees; later, the management offered to rehire the dismissed 
employees subject to a probationary period. Efforts by church 
leaders and government officials to mediate bore little fruit. 
The strike was broken, and only about two-thirds of the 
strikers were rehired. 

The new, combined Lesotho Labor Congress has maintained the 
wide'st possible spread of international trade union links. The 
Government imposes no obstacles to international affiliations 
or foreign travel for labor union-related purposes. 

b. The Right to Organize and Bargain Collectively 

All trade unions in Lesotho enjoy the right in law to organize 
and bargain collectively, but this right is only recently 
coming into practice. Two sectoral agreements exist, and four 
others are under active negotiation. An Unfair Labor Practices 
Tribunal investigates unfair labor practices and charges of 
antiunion discrimination and generally attempts to safeguard 
worker rights. A government-appointed Labor Commission is 
charged with, inter alia, monitoring wage and working 
conditions and accepting, reviewing, and investigating worker 
complaints . 

Lesotho has several industrial estates grouping together 
companies, mostly textile and apparel firms, engaged in 
manufacturing for export. There are no prohibitions against 
organized labor in these industrial zones, and in fact the 
Government helped resolve some worker complaints in 1991 
concerning unfair treatment. On the other hand, the new union, 
formed by the merger of two rival organizations representing 
clothing and garment workers, has met with apparent harassment 
and intimidation. Several of its officers were arrested or 
detained by the police in July, in apparent retribution for 
holding meetings with union members to the displeasure of 
expatriate factory management. The officers were quickly 
released without being charged. 

c. Prohibition of Forced or Compulsory Labor 

Forced or compulsory labor is prohibited by the 1987 Employment 
Act and not practiced. 



198 

LESOTHO 

d. Minimum Age for Employment of Children 

The legal minimum age for employment in commercial or 
industrial enterprises is 14. In practice, however, children 
under 14 are employed in family-owned businesses. There are 
prohibitions against the employment of minors in commercial, 
industrial, or nonfamily enterprises involving hazardous or 
dangerous working conditions. Basotho minors under 18 years 
may not be recruited for employment outside of Lesotho. 

Enforcement of these laws by inspectors of the Ministry of 
Employment, Social Welfare and Pensions is lax. In Lesotho's 
traditional society, life and working conditions for the 
country's young "herdboys" tend to be much more rigorous and 
demanding than conditions in the modern sector. Their 
quasi-pastoral life, however, is considered a prerequisite to 
manhood and is a fundamental feature of Basotho life, 
tradition, and culture, beyond the reach of labor laws. 

e. Acceptable Conditions of Work 

Wages in Lesotho are extremely low. The Government, upon the 
recommendation of a tripartite wages advisory board, again 
raised the statutory minimum wage rates in 1990 for various 
types of work. These amounts are barely sufficient for a 
minimum decent standard of living. Most wage earners 
supplement their monthly income through subsistence agriculture 
or remittances from relatives employed in South Africa. Many 
employers in Lesotho now pay more than minimum wages in an 
effort to attract and retain motivated employees. 

Lesotho's 1967 Employment Act spells out basic worker rights, 
including a 45-hour workweek, a weekly rest period of at least 
24 hours, 11 to 12 days' paid leave per year, and pay for 
public holidays. Employers are required to provide adequate 
light, ventilation, and sanitary facilities for employees, and 
to install and maintain machinery to minimize the risk of 
injury. In practice, these regulations are generally followed 
only within the wage economy and are enforced by inspectors 
from the Department of Labor of the Ministry of Employment, 
Social Welfare and Pensions. Staff shortages in the Ministry 
of Employment limit effective enforcement to the major urban 
areas. 



199 



LIBERIA 



Throughout 1991 Liberia remained a nation divided into two 
parts and three armed camps as a result of the war . The 
Interim Government of National Unity (IGNU), headed by 
President Amos Sawyer, represented a broad range of political 
views, but it exercised administration over only Monrovia and 
its immediate environs. About 50 percent of the total 
population in Liberia resided in this area which is totally 
within the defensive perimeter of the Economic Community of 
West African States' (ECOWAS) Cease-fire Monitoring Group 
(ECOMOG) . The National Patriotic Reconstruction Assembly 
Government (NPRAG) , based on and supported by the National 
Patriotic Forces of Liberia (NPFL), led by Charles Taylor, 
exercised political sway throughout the remaining 90 percent of 
the country. The two other former warring parties, the 
Independent National Patriotic Front of Liberia (INPFL), led by 
Prince Johnson, and the Armed Forces of Liberia (AFL) were 
encamped in Monrovia. Both INPFL and AFL factions, while 
monitored by ECOMOG, retained arms within their respective 
camps, and the INPFL sometimes acted independently. Johnson on 
several occasions killed a number of people, most of them 
members of his force. 

The economy, based primarily on iron ore, rubber, and timber, 
was ravaged by the civil war. Gross domestic product for 1991 
was no more than 25 percent of prewar levels. U.S. and other 
Western relief agencies and nongovernmental organizations 
initiated massive emergency operations in late 1990 to prevent 
widespread starvation in both parts of the country. Those 
operations continued through 1991. 

When compared to the appalling civil war conditions of 1990, 
there was some improvement in the human rights situation in 
1991, especially in the Monrovia area controlled by ECOMOG 
forces. However, the Interim Government's authority was 
limited, and all Liberian military forces committed serious 
human rights violations in 1991, including summary executions. 
The NPFL in particular detained several thousand West Africans 
throughout much of 1991, and NPFL soldiers reportedly killed 
many Krahn residents of Grand Gedeh in midyear. 

As a police force had only begun to be reconstituted in 1991, 
and only in Monrovia, and most of them remained unarmed, ECOMOG 
assumed this function to a large extent in Monrovia. The NPFL 
policed the territory vinder its control, and, to a large 
extent, both the INPFL and AFL carried out this function within 
their camps. Soldiers from the warring factions regularly 
abused their position by m.istreating civilians, usually in 
attempts to extort money and goods. Despite the continuing 
unstable security situation, there was some hope at year's end 
for a political solution following peace initiatives conducted 
by West African nations which led to general agreement on the 
need for free, internationally supervised elections in 1992. 
Implementation of the agreements is not assured. At the end of 
1991, it was estimated that as many as 20,000 to 30,000 
Liberians may have died in the conflict and approximately 
600,000 more were refugees in neighboring countries. 



200 

LIBERIA 

RESPECT FOR HUMAN RIGHTS 

Section 1 Respect for the Integrity of the Person, Including 
Freedom from: 

a. Political and Other Extrajudicial Killing 

Indiscriminate killings declined sharply from the previous 
year, although many incidents continued to be reported (see 
Section l.g.). Prince Johnson, the leader of the INPFL, was 
believed responsible for the killing in July of several 
soldiers of his own movement, including senior Commando Moses 
Varney. The INPFL Leader maintained that the soldiers had been 
tried under internal procedures and executed when found 
guilty. No details of the trials were made public. The IGNU 
condemned the killings. Johnson was also reportedly 
responsible for killing some civilians in September, but no 
action was taken against him as a consequence. 

According to two Liber ian religious leaders, NPFL soldiers 
killed 20 Ghanaians in Since county in mid-February, and in 
July several Ghanaian women from Fanti fishing communities 
informed an international organization's representative in Cote 
d'lvoire that the NPFL had killed their husbands. These 
reported killings continued a pattern from the previous year 
when NPFL followers allegedly killed Ghanaians and other West 
Africans in retribution for their respective nations' role in 
the conflict (see Section l.b. and l.d.). 

NPFL Leader Charles Taylor reportedly ordered several NPFL 
members executed following an aborted coup attempt in late 
August. While Taylor publicly denied there had been a coup 
attempt, he acknowledged that an NPFL officer had been 
executed, ostensibly for killing five NPFL soldiers. According 
to Monrovia's media, which claimed to have interviewed ex-NPFL 
soldiers following the failed coup, up to 75 NPFL members were 
executed (see also Section l.g.). 

b. Disappearance 

Disappearances were much less common in 1991 than in 1990, but 
little new information surfaced about persons missing as a 
result of the war. Many families remained divided among those 
living in Monrovia, those in NPFL areas, and those who fled 
Liberia and have not returned. Although there were many 
returnees during the year, movement between Monrovia and the 
NPFL areas was very difficult for most people. The 
International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) began a family 
tracer program but located only about 30 percent of the missing 
persons brought to its attention. 

According to a Liberian religious leader, several Ghanaian 
children disappeared in March in Buchanan following a visit by 
ECOMOG intended to build confidence between it and the NPFL. 
The Ghanaian children warmly welcomed ECOMOG vehicles, some 
manned by Ghanaian soldiers. This affectionate display was 
said to have enraged some NPFL soldiers who were believed 
responsible for the children's disappearance shortly 
thereafter . 

c. Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading 
Treatment or Punishment 

During the height of the civil war, many members of the three 
warring factions rampantly indulged in acts of inhumanity. 



/ 



201 



LIBERIA 



Abuses in 1991 declined sharply but cases of inhuman treatment 
continued. The most widely pub cized incident occurred in 
February when INPFL forces infl Jted inhuman treatment on nine 
members of the IGNU, including a cabinet minister-designate and 
several members of the Interim Legislative Assembly. They were 
stripped and flogged, and one was forced to sit in a mound of 
driver ants while einother was made to. lick feces. Under 
pressure from ECOMOG, the ICRC, and the Interim Government, 
INPFL Leader Johnson released the detainees, excusing his 
actions as necessary to call attention to alleged ECOMOG abuse 
of INPFL soldiers. 

Prior to the 1989 civil war, conditions in the nation's jails 
were inhuman and hazardous to life and health. Prisoners were 
often denied access to family and medical care; cells were 
small, crowded, and filthy. Conditions at the notorious 
maximum security facility at Belle Yella had long been of 
concern . 

During 1991 none of Liberia's prewar prisons were believed to 
be still functioning, although the IGNU was reported to be 
refurbishing one in Monrovia. NPFL Leader Charles Taylor 
announced in March that the Belle Yella Prison would be 
closed. He directed that its remaining prisoners be 
transferred to their respective counties for retrial. There 
was no information about the results of the transfer order. 

d. Arbitrary Arrest, Detention, or Exile 

There were few juridical protections to prevent arbitrary 
arrest, even in the ECOMOG-controlled areas, as the INPFL 
detention and abuse of nine Interim Government members for 3 
days in February demonstrated (Section I.e.). In theory the 
1985 Constitution provides specific legal safeguards for the 
rights of the accused, including warrants for arrests and the 
right of detainees to be charged or released within 48 hours. 
Even before the civil war, these rights were freqpjently 
violated, particularly in cases allegedly involving national 
security. The Interim President repeatedly affirmed that his 
Government would respect the 1985 Constitution and its 
procedural safeguards, and in practice attempted to do so. In 
late 1990, the IGNU outlawed the use of military stockades for 
detaining civilians, a practice common under the previous 
regime. 

Early in 1991, undisciplined elements of the AFL on occasion 
detained and threatened civilians deemed to be "rebel 
sympathizers." After AFL commanders called for greater 
discipline and in July formed a Ij.oard of inquiry to investigate 
citizens' complaints of abuse, tnere appeared to have been some 
lessening of AFL abuses . 

NPFL forces detained up to 4,000 West African nationals, 
primarily Nigerians and Ghanaians, behind NPFL lines during 
much of 1991. The NPFL forces viewed the West Africans as 
enemies and reportedly executed many in reprisal against 
ECOMOG, which fought the NPFL in October-November 1990. In 
March NPFL Leader Charles Taylor "released" the West Africans 
from the detention camps but prohibited them from traveling to 
Monrovia or crossing into neighboring countries. Approximately 
300 to 500 Nigerians as well as a number of Ghanaians 
eventually managed to make their way in small groups to 
Monrovia. In late August, the NPFL announced "the first phase 
of the repatriation process" for West Africans and allowed over 
100 Nigerians to cross safely into Cote d'lvoire. The ICRC 



202 



LIBERIA 

assisted in the repatriation, and the Nigerians were followed 
by several other groups, including Ghanaians and other West 
Africans . 

Following the September incursion by anti-NPFL Liberians into 
western Liberia from Sierra Leone after an earlier NPFL 
invasion into Sierra Leone, the NPFL forcibly detained 4 
Western and 35 Liberian relief personnel working in the area, 
accusing them of being "spies." In response the U.N. and 
nongovernmental relief agencies suspended all relief operations 
in NPFL areas until the detainees were freed. While the 4 
Western nationals were released 2 days later, the 35 Liberians 
were held for another 8 days . 

A number of other foreigners were detained by the NPFL for 
varying periods; all were eventually released. 

e. Denial of Fair Public Trial 

The structure of Liberia's legal system is closely modeled on 
that of the United States, with the Supreme Court at its apex. 
In practice before the civil war, the system afforded little 
protection for defendants due to corruption among court 
officials, lack of training, and inordinate executive 
interference. By mid-1990, the system had completely collapsed 
along with the rest of civil authority, with justice in the 
hands of military commanders of the warring factions. Many 
public records in Monrovia, including those of the courts, 
churches, and schools were looted and badly damaged during the 
civil war. The registrar of public records estimated that over 
80 percent of national record holdings were damaged, and 30 to 
40 percent destroyed. 

The IGNU began in 1991 slowly to reconstitute the court 
system. Early in the year, it reestablished several 
magistrate's courts in Monrovia, and in September swore new 
circuit court judges into office. The IGNU, in an 
unprecedented move, asked the Bar Association to recommend 
candidates for judgeships. At the end of September, following 
new West African peace initiatives, the IGNU and NPFL agreed 
upon the composition of a five-member ad hoc Supreme Court. 
The Court's stated purpose is to adjudicate electoral disputes, 
but the full scope of its jurisdiction is still undecided. At 
the end of the year, the Court had not yet been inaugurated. 

In the areas under NPFL control, legal and judicial protections 
were almost totally lacking. There were reports that the 
authorities imposed capital punishment for armed thefts. 
Another report said the NPFL executed suspected murderers after 
"tribunal trials in life-for-life retributive justice." 
Another source reported that armed robbery was discouraged in 
NPFL areas because "the death penalty is automatic." 

f. Arbitrary Interference with Privacy, Family, Home, or 
Correspondence 

Serious abuses of privacy by soldiers of all three forces 
continued in 1991 although not on the scale of 1990. AFL 
soldiers committed many armed robberies in the downtown 
Monrovia area, including seizure of several vehicles assigned 
to Interim Legislative Assembly members. They also illegally 
occupied some private homes. The AFL brigade commander 
publicly requested citizens to report abuses by AFL soldiers to 
the proper authorities and ordered soldiers to respect the 
rights of civilians but with only marginal effect. Only when 



203 



LIBERIA 

ECOMOG increased its patrols in downtown areas at midyear did 
the situation improve somewhat, but abuses continued throughout 
the year . 

The situation was worse in NPFL-held areas. According to 
Liberians who returned to Monrovia from Lofa County, NPFL 
soldiers regularly demanded food and personal possessions from 
village residents and often robbed and abused citizens. To 
escape the harassment, many Liberians moved their families to 
remote areas. Soldiers assigned to checkpoints demanded money 
and goods for passage, from both Liberians and expatriate 
relief workers. 

g. Use of Excessive Force and Violations of Humanitarian 
Law in Internal Conflicts 

Following the November 1990 cease-fire, fighting between the 
three warring factions and the use of excessive force against 
civilians sharply declined but did not end. 

Perhaps the largest number of deaths occurred between July and 
August when the NPFL moved through Grand Gedeh County. 
According to survivors interviewed by the Western media and 
human rights groups in Cote d'lvoire, as many as 1,500 people, 
mostly of the Krahn ethnic group of former president Samuel 
Doe, may have died. Others interviewed stated that the NPFL 
entered their villages shooting indiscriminately. Independent 
observers who visited the area confirmed that entire villages 
were destroyed and that many inhabitants had fled into the bush. 

There were many other instances of the use of excessive force 
and violations of humanitarian law during the year. In January 
over 1,000 new refugees, mostly Krahn, fled to refugee camps in 
Tai, Cote d'lvoire. They reported that the NPFL was conducting 
secret killings, raping women, looting homes, and stealing 
cattle. In July-August, approximately 10,000 people, mostly 
Krahns, fled across the border to Cote d'lvoire reporting that 
the NPFL had attacked their villages, indiscriminately killing 
men, women, and children. Independent observers reported 
seeing jailed Krahns in chains. 

Section 2 Respect for Civil Liberties, Including: 

a. Freedom of Speech and Press 

There was increased freedom of speech and press in 1991, 
especially in Monrovia. However, people still had to be 
careful in criticizing the various factions. Although NPFL 
leader Charles Taylor affirmed publicly on several occasions 
that his government supported free speech and criticism, both 
Liberians and expatriates have been detained by his supporters 
for comments made about the NPFL. 

There was no press censorship in Monrovia, and the number of 
newspapers in Monrovia grew rapidly, with as many as 13 
separate newspapers reflecting a variety of opinion being 
published at different times in 1991. A shortage of newsprint, 
however, reduced this number by the end of the year. Unlike 
the previous Doe regime, the Interim Government did not publish 
its own newspaper. The INPFL sponsored a newspaper. The 
Scorpion, with articles highly favorable to Prince Johnson and 
the INPFL. The NPFL printed a monthly newspaper. The Patriot, 
which was also sold in Monrovia but which stopped publication 
late in the year. In December two newspapers describing 



204 



LIBERIA 

themselves as independent appeared in Gbarnga, capital of 
NPFL-controlled territory. 

Press freedom was not complete even in Monrovia. For example, 
ECOMOG reacted negatively to an article published in May by The 
Inquirer which alleged complicity by the ECOMOG field commander 
with a reputed arms merchant. The editor was briefly detained 
and asked to reveal the source of his information, which he 
refused to do. As a result of this incident, the Interim 
Government publicly called upon the press to be more 
responsible in its reporting. This, in turn, was publicly 
criticized by the Press Union of Liberia which claimed it had 
"an intimidating" effect on the press. 

The Interim Government supported a shortwave radio station 
(ELBC), and its broadcasts from Monrovia were heard across most 
of the country. ELBC news reports were generally favorable to 
the IGNU. The Catholic Church-operated FM radio station, 
previously shut down by the Doe Government, resumed operations 
in May. The NPFL operated three radio and two television 
stations in its areas. NPFL news programs supported Charles 
Taylor and the NPFL, while discussing economic and social 
problems in NPFL territory. The NPFL's FM station, part of 
whose appeal is the current American music it broadcasts, 
acquired increased power in October and can now be heard by the 
majority of Liber ians, including those in Monrovia. 

When Monrovian journalists accompanied ECOMOG in May to the 
opening of the MPFL's legislative assembly in Gbarnga, a senior 
NPFL military leader, who later was appointed its chief of 
staff, attempted to detain two reporters and confiscate their 
equipment for having interviewed local residents. He also 
attempted to arrest a Monrovia radio reporter for "treason" for 
having broadcast news about Interim President Sawyer. ECOMOG 
press officers intervened to prevent the arrest. 

b. Freedom of Peaceful Assembly and Association 

In 1991 political parties and other groups in Monrovia were 
able to organize and to hold public meetings. New political 
organizations appeared, including the True Whig Party which 
Samuel Doe had outlawed shortly after seizing power in 1980. 
Under IGNU sponsorship, a coalition of organizations held a 
mass rally in August attended by up to 5,000 people to show 
public support for the ECOMOG peacekeeping effort. 

Freedom of assembly and association was generally more 
restrictive in NPFL areas than in Monrovia. For instance, none 
of the prewar political parties were known to have reorganized 
or to have held public meetings during 1991 in NPFL areas. 

According to Western and Monrovian press reporters on the 
scene, some Liberians in NPFL areas who greeted ECOMOG soldiers 
during the initial confidence-building visits in March with 
chants of "we want Taylor," later spontaneously broke out into 
chants of "we want peace" and "we want ECOMOG." Some reporters 
stated that the people had been forced to assemble and chant 
pro-NPFL slogans and that many were later punished for their 
praise of ECOMOG. One Western news service reported five 
people died from NPFL beatings following ECOMOG visits to 
Kakata and Buchanan. However, NPFL justice minister Laveli 
Supuwood dismissed the reports as "malicious." 



/ 205 

LIBERIA 

c. Freedom of Religion 

The 1985 Constitution states that freedom of religion is a 
fxindamental right of all Liberian citizens, and in practice 
there are no restrictions in Monrovia on freedom of worship. 
There is no established state religion. Christianity has long 
been the religion of the political and economic elite, while 
the majority of the rural population continues to follow 
traditional religions. Muslims account for about 20 percent of 
the population. Mandingos, who are predominantly Muslim, were 
targeted during the civil war by the NPFL as being pro-Doe, and 
most mosques were closed in NPFL territory during the war. 
However, other Liberian Muslims did not receive the same 
treatment, and the action against the Mandingos was based 
primarily on ethnic/political considerations rather than an 
effort to repress religious freedom. 

d. Freedom of Movement within the Country, Foreign 
Travel, Emigration, and Repatriation 

While the Constitution provides every person the right to move 
freely throughout Liberia and to leave or enter the country at 
will, the previous Doe regime required exit visas for those 
wishing to leave the country, and it maintained a "black list" 
of those who were not permitted to depart. The Interim 
Government announced in March that it was abolishing this 
"xinconstitutional" policy. 

Throughout the year reuniting families and returning displaced 
persons were hampered by NPFL checkpoints, which made travel 
very difficult on roads in and out of Monrovia. The NPFL 
required employees of the various international relief agencies 
to have passes approved monthly. In spite of difficulties, 
many Liber ians transited the lines, often by paying bribes or 
using guile to reach ECOMOG- controlled areas. During the 
period April-September, nearly 60,000 moved to Monrovia through 
these means . 

Because of civil war abuses, approximately 600,000 Liber ians, 
about 20 percent of the prewar population, remained as refugees 
in nearby countries, mostly in Cote D'lvoire and Guinea. 
Smaller numbers are in Sierra Leone, Ghana, and Nigeria. 

Following the NPFL incursion into Sierra Leone in March, the 
125,000 Liberians who had originally sought refuge near the 
border in Sierra Leone were forced to flee to safer areas in 
that country, or to Guinea or NPFL-held territory in Liberia. 
Many who reached Sierra Leone's capital subsec[uently returned 
to Monrovia by ship. Some refugees have also repatriated to 
Liberia from Guinea, Cote d'lvoire, Ghana, and Nigeria. The 
NPFL incursion also put Sierra Leonians to flight, and a 
reported 12,000 sought refuge inside Liberia near the border at 
Cape Mount . 

Section 3 Respect for Political Rights: The Right of Citizens 
to Change Their Government 

Despite constitutional and legal guarantees of free and fair 
elections, Liberians could not exercise their right to change 
their government in 1991. However, there was limited progress 
in the search for new political formulas to restore unity under 
popularly elected leadership. In March-April, a second 
All-Liberia Conference (ALC) occurred in Monrovia (the first 
was held in August 1990 in The Gambia). The NPFL initially i 
participated, but later withdrew. The second ALC created a new 



206 



LIBERIA 

Interim Legislative Assembly (ILA) . The six political parties 
and the NPFL selected representatives according to their own 
internal procedures, while the county representatives were 
selected informally from among members of the respective 
communities resident in Monrovia. Two seats were also allotted 
to the country's 18 registered interest groups, and filled by 
leaders from the Teachers' Association and the Trade Union 
Federation. In August the IMPEL representatives resigned from 
the ILA after their leader. Prince Johnson, withdrew his 
support for the Interim Government. (The NPFL maintained its 
separate legislature. The National Patriotic Reconstruction 
Assembly, in Gbarnga.) The second ALC reaffirmed through a 
more widely based conference the interim administration which 
had resulted from the first ALC at Banjul. The IGNU is a 
relatively broad-based government with representation from the 
major political parties. Amos Sawyer was originally chosen 
President by the participants at the first ALC, and he was 
reaffirmed in that office by the participants in the second ALC. 

Neither the legislature in Monrovia nor that in Gbarnga was 
truly representative. However, the ILA in Monrovia purported 
to function as a separate branch of government and both 
confirmed and rejected IGNU appointees following public 
confirmation hearings. It also subpoenaed members of the 
executive to explain the actions of the Interim Government. In 
contrast, the NPFL legislature was generally viewed as 
subservient to NPFL leadership views. 

Following a new series of peace initiatives during the second 
half of 1991, conducted by the heads of numerous West African 
nations in Yamoussoukro, Cote d'lvoire, the Interim Government 
in Monrovia and the NPFL in Gbarnga agreed to hold free and 
fair elections which, if the process continued, were expected 
to take place during the first half of 1992. Under the 
Yamoussoukro formula, the three warring factions would encamp 
and disarm their military forces under ECOMOG supervision. 
Subsequently an elections commission and an ad hoc Supreme 
Court were established by IGNU and the NPFL, and the members 
were appointed by mutual agreement. The electoral commission 
held its first meeting on December 31 and was formally sworn in 
several days later. By year's end, the ad hoc Supreme Court 
had not yet met . 

Section 4 Governmental Attitude Regarding International and 

Nongovernmental Investigation of Alleged Violations 
of Human Rights . 

On numerous occasions. Interim Government President Sawyer 
declared the IGNU's commitment to human rights. Two fledgling 
human rights groups formed in 1991 and conducted public 
meetings and other activities. One issued the first of what it 
hopes will become a regular publication on human rights. The 
attitude of the NPFL government was not clear. Its conduct to 
date has been less than exemplary. One human rights 
organizations based in NPFL territory was established in 1991. 

In August a representative of Africa Watch visited Monrovia and 
later successfully traveled to NPFL areas. However, a 
delegation of the New York-based Lawyers' Committee on Human 
Rights, which also visited Monrovia in August, did not go to 
NPFL areas because an NPFL escort failed to meet the delegates 
as previously arranged. 



207 



LIBERIA 

Section 5 Discrimination Based on Race, Sex, Religion, 
Language, or Social Status. 

The roots of the civil conflict can be found in the historical 
division between the Americo-Liberians, who for over 150 years 
dominated the political, economic, and cultural life of the 
country, and the ethnic groups in the interior. The latter 
frec[uently complained of government discrimination in many 
areas, such as access to education and civil service jobs and 
to infrastructure development. The coup mounted by Sergeant 
Doe and other noncommissioned officers in 1980 was seen as a 
revolution, with the interior groups taking power from the 
Americo-Liberian elites. However, Doe's authoritarian, 
military-based regime exacerbated ethnic tensions while 
subverting the democratic reform process, exemplified in the 
1985 Constitution, through rigged elections. During the Doe 
regime, resentment grew over domination by, and government 
favoritism toward, his tribe, the Krahns. 

The 1985 Constitution prohibited discrimination based on ethnic 
background, race, sex, creed, place of origin or political 
opinion. However, it also provides that only "persons who are 
Negroes or of Negro descent" may be citizens or own land, 
denying full rights to many who have lived their lives in 
Liberia. There was no indication that this prohibition had 
been relaxed by either Monrovia's Interim Government or 
Gbarnga ' s NPFL government . 

The status of women in Liberian society varies by region, with 
women holding some skilled jobs, including cabinet-level 
positions, in both the IGNU and NPFL Governments. In urban 
areas and along the coast, women can inherit land and 
property. In rural areas, where traditional customs are 
stronger, a woman is normally considered the property of her 
husband and his clan and is not usually entitled to inherit 
from her husband. Women in rural areas are responsible for 
much of the farm labor and have had only limited access to 
education. According to a recent U.N. study, females in 
Liberia receive only about 28 percent of the schooling given to 
males. In the massive violence inflicted on civilians during, 
the conflict, women have suffered the gamut of abuses, 
especially rape. Even prior to the war, domestic violence 
against women was extensive but never seriously addressed by 
the Government or women's groups as an issue. There were no 
statistics on domestic violence against women, but it was 
considered to be fairly common. Female circumcision was, and 
almost certainly still is, widely practiced in rural areas. 

During the height of the civil war, a person's language was 
used to identify him or her by ethnic group. Those from groups 
considered hostile frequently were summarily executed. The 
cease-fire in late 1990 stopped most of these abuses. However, 
NPFL reprisals against the Krahn, particularly in Grand Gedeh, 
continued well into 1991 (see Section l.g.). 

Section 6 Worker Rights 

a. The Right of Association 

The Constitution states that workers have the right to 
associate in trade unions. Over 20 trade unions were 
registered with the Ministry of Labor before the civil war, 
representing roughly 15 percent of the work force in the wage 
economy. Ten national unions were members of the Liberian 
Federation of Labor Unions (LFLU) . However, the actual power 



208 



LIBERIA 

these unions exercised was limited. The previous government 
did not recognize the right of civil servants or employees of 
public corporations to unionize or strike. Like virtually all 
other organized activity in the country, unions disappeared 
during the height of the war in mid-1990, and union activity 
remained limited in 1991. While some large-scale operations 
involving rubber and other extractive industries partially 
resumed in NPFL areas, it is not known if union activity 
associated with these industries resumed. 

In April 1990, the U.S. Trade Representative announced that 
Liberia's status as a beneficiary of trade preferences under 
the Generalized System of Preferences program had been 
suspended as a result of the Doe government's failure to take 
steps to provide internationally recognized worker rights. The 
suspension remained in effect throughout 1991. 

Labor unions have traditionally affiliated with international 
labor' groups. 

b. The Right to Organize and Bargain Collectively 

In 1991 workers' rights to organize and bargain collectively 
were moot because of the lack of economic enterprise, 
especially in Monrovia where only a few businesses resumed 
operations, usually with reduced staffing. With the important 
exception of civil servants and employees of public 
corporations, prior to the civil war workers enjoyed the right 
to organize and bargain collectively. Labor laws had the same 
force in Liberia's one export processing zone as in the rest of 
the country. 

The 1991 report of the Committee of Experts (COE) of the 
International Labor Organization (ILO) reiterated that Liberian 
labor legislation fails to provide workers adequate protection 
against discrimination and reprisals for union activity, fails 
to protect workers' organizations against outside interference, 
and does not give eligible workers in the public sector the 
opportunity to bargain collectively. 

c. Prohibition of Forced or Compulsory Labor 

The Constitution prohibits forced labor, but even before the 
civil war this prohibition was widely ignored in rural areas, 
where farmers were pressured into providing free labor on 
"community projects" which often benefited only local leaders. 
Forced labor was used by some or all of the warring factions 
during the civil war, especially for moving equipment and 
supplies. Some vestiges persisted in 1991; for example, a 
local newspaper reported that following the incursion into 
Sierra Leone in March, the NPFL used forced labor in Lofa 
County to move supplies to the border. According to the same 
source, forced labor was also used to clean up several major 
towns in Lofa County. There was at least one report of the 
NPFL forcing local villagers to set up a communal farm to feed 
its soldiers, also in Lofa County. 

d. Minimum Age for Employment of Children 

Under the Doe government, the law prohibited employment of 
children under age 16 during school hours in the wage sector. 
Enforcement by the Ministry of Labor, however, was very 
limited. Even before the civil war, small children continued 
to assist their parents as vendors in local markets and on 
family subsistence farms. During the conflict, the NPFL and 



209 



LIBERIA 

/ 

INPFL recruited young children, some less than 12 years of age, 
as soldiers. Many of these children had been orphaned during 
the war. While some children remained under arms, neither 
group was believed to have recruited additional children as 
soldiers in 1991. 

e. Acceptable Conditions of Work 

The labor law provides for a minimum wage, paid leave, 
severance benefits, and safety standards. Before the economy 
collapsed, the legal minimum wage varied according to 
profession but still did not provide a decent standard of 
living for a worker and his family and had to be supplemented 
by other sources of income, including subsistence farming. 
There had also been health and safety standards, in theory 
enforced by the Ministry of Labor. In view of the low level of 
economic activity in divided Liberia during 1991, these various 
regulations were not adhered to by many employers, and there 
was no attempt at enforcement. 



210 



MADAGASCAR 



When 1991 began. President Didier Ratsiraka, who had been in 
power since 1975, and his party, the Vanguard of the Malagasy 
Revolution (AREMA) , dominated the Government. By midyear, the 
nation's "Active Forces" (a group of opposition political 
parties, church groups, workers' syndicates, and private sector 
groups) were organizing almost daily demonstrations that 
challenged the Ratsiraka regime to meet demands for fundamental 
political change. Civil servants also began a widely observed 
strike that crippled the Government's administrative 
apparatus. The Government consequently agreed to negotiate, 
and on October 31 a compromise convention established an 
interim Government which reduced the powers of President 
Ratsiraka. This Government, headed by Prime Minister 
Razanamazy and including many opposition members, is tasked to 
provide a new constitution and elections within 18 months. The 
National Assembly suspended its activities according to the 
October 31 compromise, and transitional institutions were 
established, including a 31-member High Authority of State, a 
transitional administration, and a 130-seat Council for 
Economic and Social Recovery. After much debate, a 
transitional cabinet with considerable opposition membership 
was named in mid-December. Strikes and demonstrations 
continued although to a far lesser extent. 

The gendarmerie (rural police) and the national police (urban 
police) are responsible for internal security. At the year's 
end, the Directorate General of Internal and External 
Investigations and Documentation (DGIDIE) remained under the 
authority of President Ratsiraka, although the DGIDIE director 
also reported to the Prime Minister. In the past, the DGIDIE 
and the police employed physical mistreatment of detainees, 
particularly during interrogation, but reports indicate the 
DGIDIE stopped such practices by mid-1990. The presidential 
security guard, a unit of 1,800 men, remains under the direct 
command of the President. In an October 25 statement, senior 
officers of the military and the gendarmerie called on all 
political leaders to move urgently toward a compromise, 
demonstrating a degree of neutrality on their part. 

Agriculture, especially rice production, dominates the Malagasy 
economy. About 85 percent of the working population (39.3 
percent of the country's 12 million inhabitants) are employed 
in this sector, accounting for 80 percent of Madagascar's 
export earnings. Rich in minerals, Madagascar also has a small 
industrial base which accounts for 15 percent of the gross 
domestic product. Personal incomes remain very low, and 
unemployment remains high, particularly among youth (60 percent 
of the population is under 25) . The strikes in support of the 
opposition have had a serious negative impact on an already 
weak economy. 

Serious human rights abuses occurred during 1991, despite the 
Government's increased tolerance of the freedoms of speech, 
press, and assembly, and popular pressures for a more rapid 
pace of political reform. In particular, while attempting to 
control and disperse crowds of demonstrators in Antsiranana, 
Antananarivo, and Mahajanga, security forces used tear gas, 
stun grenades, and other tactics which killed and injured 
numerous demonstrators (see Section l.a.). An effective 
government capable of performing basic functions was not in 
place for much of the year. 



211 

MADAGASCAR 

RESPECT FOR HUMAN RIGHTS 

Section 1 Respect for the Integrity of the Person, Including 
Freedom from: 

a. Political and Other Extrajudicial Killing 

There were no reported incidents of targeted political killing 
in 1991. However, on several occasions, security personnel 
used force, sometimes excessive, to disperse demonstrators who 
participated in marches. In some cases, the demonstrators 
engaged in looting and other vandalizing activity. On August 
10, opposition leaders led a crowd estimated at over 100,000 on 
a march on the presidential palace of lavoloha, located about 
13 kilometers outside the capital. The demonstrators passed 
two security checkpoints without being hindered by security 
forces. However, when the crowd began to pass a final 
barricade approximately 1 kilometer from the presidential 
palace, the army and presidential guard dispersed it, first 
with teargas, then by dropping stun grenades from a helicopter 
that had been positioned at the presidential palace and 
reportedly firing rifles into the crowd. A group of civilians, 
reportedly transported to Antananarivo from the south by the 
Government, were interspersed among the soldiers and threw 
stones at the retreating crowd. In the ensuing confusion, some 
demonstrators spilled over from the road into bordering rice 
paddies, which had been mined. Retreating demonstrators were 
pursued, and medical personnel confirm that at least two were 
shot in the back. At least 11 demonstrators were killed in 
this incident, and over 200 injured. Another 20 died later of 
their wounds. 

Later on August 10 in the northwest city of Mahajanga, a group 
of 12,000 to 15,000 demonstrators looted and burned private 
businesses and government buildings. Reportedly, five were 
killed and seven injured when security forces used tear gas and 
stun grenades . 

Again, on October 23, a group of demonstrators in the northern 
city of Antsiranana attempted, despite verbal warnings and 
warning shots, to enter a security zone. Subsequently, one 
member of the security forces rolled an offensive fragmentary 
grenade into the street. Reportedly, 2 demonstrators were 
killed, and 76 injured, many as they fled through a 
construction area. 

In late July and early August, four persons were killed in the 
port city of Toamasina during political demonstrations. Two of 
the deaths allegedly occurred at the hands of vigilantes 
belonging to the Militant Movement for Malagasy Socialism 
(MMSM), the then governing political coalition; the third 
victim was allegedly shot in the back by security forces. The 
fourth victim, an MMSM supporter, was reportedly killed by 
Active Forces' supporters. 

With the weakening of the police and gendarmerie's ability to 
keep order, mob action against suspected criminals became more 
frequent in July and August. At least five alleged thieves 
were chased, caught, beaten, and killed by angry crowds in four 
separate incidents. Their bodies were burned, and no official 
actions were taken to apprehend or punish those responsible. 



50-726 - 92 - 8 



212 

MADAGASCAR ' '' 

b. Disappearance 

Following the clash on August 10, opposition leaders claimed 57 
persons who had participated in the march on lavoloha were 
missing and had been killed and buried. Though requested to do 
so, the opposition did not provide a list of names of those 
said to be missing, and no relatives came forward in response 
to an appeal by a local human rights group. The presidential 
palace turned over two bodies to families of the deceased. 
Prime Minister Guy Razanamasy set up a commission of inquiry to 
formally investigate the events of August 10. Also, the 
opposition-dominated High Authority of State announced an 
investigation. By year's end, the Prime Minister's report had 
been turned over to the Ministry of Justice, though its content 
was not publicized. 

c. Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading 
Treatment or Punishment 

In the past, the DGIDIE (the intelligence unit) has beaten 
prisoners in its custody, although there were no reports of 
such abuses in 1991. The director of the DGIDIE, a judge 
appointed in mid-1990, has attempted to reform the 
organization, stating publicly in 1991 that the role of the 
DGIDIE was to protect the rights of the individual. 

Conditions in Malagasy prisons are harsh and life threatening. 
The diet provided is inadequate, and family members must 
augment inmates' daily food rations. Those prisoners without 
relatives in the vicinity sometimes go for days without food 
and some have starved in the past. Prison cells built for one 
inmate are now housing up to eight. Each prisoner has on 
average less than one square meter of space. Prisoners suffer 
a wide range of medical problems that are not routinely 
treated, including mainour ishment, infections, malaria, and 
tuberculosis. The prison death toll rises significantly during 
the winter months. A number of children live in the prisons 
with their mothers, and there is prostitution by female inmates 
in collusion with guards. 

d. Arbitrary Arrest, Detention, or Exile 

Legal safeguards against arbitrary arrest and detention are not 
always followed. According to the law, in a normal criminal 
case, the detainee must be charged or released within 3 days 
after arrest. An arrest warrant may be obtained but is not 
always required. Generally, defendants in ordinary criminal 
cases are charged formally within the specified time frame, 
and, upon being charged, are allowed to obtain an attorney. 
Counsel is readily available, and court-appointed counsel is 
provided for indigents. Bail may be requested by the accused 
or his attorney immediately after arrest, after being formally 
charged, or during the appeal process. Denial of bail may be 
appealed. The Malagasy penal code provides for a determination 
of habeas corpus . 

Despite these legal provisions, average pretrial detention time 
exceeds 1 year, and 3 or 4 years of detention is common, even 
for crimes for which the maximum penalty may be 2 years or 
less. Prisoners may wait years in prison only to be found not 
guilty, with no recourse. The judicial process, always slow, 
was mired down even further in 1991 by a magistrates' strike in 
support of the political opposition. During July and August, 
several hundred prisoners walked away from their places of 
incarceration when prison guards joined the strike. 



213 



MADAGASCAR 

Under Malagasy law, persons suspected of activity against the 
State may be detained incommunicado for 15 days, subject to 
indefinite extension if deemed necessary by the Government. 
Over the summer the opposition named a shadow government as 
part of its strategy to contest power and instructed its shadow 
ministers to ocfcupy government ministries. In July four of the 
shadow ministers were detained by government security forces. 
Two were detained while trying to enter ministry buildings; the 
other two were taken into custody on the street . They were 
held incommunicado and released several days later. While two 
of the detentions were witnessed and one actually photographed, 
the other two were not verified and were treated with some 
skepticism in the press. The abductions were believed to have 
been carried out by the Government's antiterrorist squad. None 
of the incidents were ever investigated, and the guilty parties 
remain unpunished. At the end of 1991, there were no persons 
held under this provision. 

In late July and early August, 57 arrests were made in the port 
city of Toamasina during the demonstrations. The arrests were 
authorized by the mayor and carried out by gendarmerie 
"antigang" units who concealed their identities and security 
affiliation. A Malagasy lawyer questioned whether these units 
were legally empowered to make the arrests, stating that only 
military police or gendarmes using proper arrest procedures 
have that authority. It was reported that the detainees had 
been denied access to counsel and to family members. All 
detainees were confirmed released by late September. 

e. Denial of Fair Public Trial 

Malagasy trials are public, and defendants have the right to be 
present, to confront witnesses, and to present evidence. 
Defendants enjoy a presumption of innocence under the Malagasy 
penal code. 

The 1975 Constitution provides for an independent judiciary, 
and, in practice, the judiciary seems to function largely 
without influence from the executive. However, the judiciary, 
unlike the executive and legislative branches, is not a 
separate branch of government. One aim of the 1991 
magistrates' strike was constitutional reform to raise the 
judiciary to the level of a separate government branch. 

The judiciary has three levels of courts: lower courts for 
civil and criminal cases carrying limited fines and sentences; 
a Court of Appeals which includes a criminal court for cases 
carrying sentences of 5 years or more; and a Supreme Court. 
The judiciary also has a number of special courts designed to 
handle specific kinds of cases under the jurisdiction of the 
higher courts. 

The Constitutional High Court, with a separate and autonomous 
status, is a body for review of laws, decrees, and ordinances, 
and for oversight of elections and certification of their 
results. It is clearly separated from the judicial hierarchy. 

Extralegal institutions known as "dina" also exist as a means 
of conflict resolution. Dina are village-based pacts and exist 
as specific agreements between villages. Technically, dina 
handle only civil matters among villages; criminal cases are to 
be turned over to the court system. In practice, the dina have 
been used to settle cattle rustling cases, prevalent in the 
south. Decisions by dina are not subject to procedural 
protections of due process or to judicial review. Dina are 



214 



MADAGASCAR 

traditional means of conflict resolution. Decisions are 
considered just as long as the parties involved accept this 
traditional concept. 

A military court has jurisdiction over all cases involving 
national security. The definition of national security is 
largely a matter of interpretation by the authorities but 
includes acts constituting a threat to the nation and its 
political leaders, invasion by foreign forces, and riots that 
could lead to an overthrow of the Government. In exceptional 
cases, civilians may be tried in the military court if charged 
with breaking military laws. Military courts, like civilian 
courts, provide for an appeal process and are presided over by 
civilian magistrates. The rank of the four military officers 
comprising the court is determined by the rank of the accused. 

There were no reports of political prisoners being held in 
Madagascar at year's end. 

f . Arbitrary Interference with Privacy, Family, Home, or 
Correspondence 

The State does not generally intervene in the private aspects 
of the lives of the people. The home is inviolable under 
Malagasy tradition and law, though the Constitution permits 
authorities, to enter homes where a suspect is caught in a 
criminal act or where the owner explicitly consents to a 
search. There is no known monitoring of telephones or 
correspondence . 

Section 2 Respect for Civil Liberties, Including: 

a. Freedom of Speech and Press 

Press censorship was suspended in 1989 and formally abolished 
in December 1990. Beginning in 1989, the print media have 
openly criticized both the Government and the opposition. 
Opposition parties, independent trade unions, professional 
associations and others have benefited from regular access to 
the newspapers and journals and often have their statements 
pxiblished. Following the temporary reimposition of censorship 
under the State of Emergency in July, the press first printed 
both censored and uncensored editions and then, within a few 
days, decided to ignore the censor because the Government did 
not enforce the emergency censorship regulation. 

By mid-1991, the state-owned Malagasy Radio-Television (RTM) 
had begun to broadcast a weekly discussion program, often 
featuring prominent opposition figures, and to televise live 
each evening the French Antenne 2 network news. However, the 
Government kept close watch over these important media 
outlets. During May and June, the RTM provided limited 
coverage of opposition activities, and in late June RTM ceased 
coverage of opposition activities altogether. RTM personnel 
joined the general strike in part to protest this tight 
government control. While a portion of the RTM strikers 
returned following the installation of a new cabinet led by 
Prime Minister Razanamasy in late August, some of the remaining 
RTM strikers created a private radio station. Radio Active 
Forces, without benefit of a license from the Government. In 
October Prime Minister Razanamazy gained control of television 
facilities which had been moved to the presidential palace. 
Since then, television news has covered the full spectrum of 
political activities. A Sunday program was inauguarated in 
October featuring lively debate among political figures. 



215 



MADAGASCAR 

Academic freedom was in theory restricted by a constitutional 
prohibition of any public lectures or teachings that condemn 
the Socialist revolution. However, this provision was deleted 
in the constitutional reform package presented by President 
Ratsiraka to the National Assembly in June. In 1991 high 
school students in Antananarivo were prevented from taking 
their baccalaureate examinations by opposition demonstrators. 
Teacher strikes which mingled opposition and union demands 
largely paralyzed the public education sector during the second 
half of the year . 

b. Freedom of Peaceful Assembly and Association 

Some legal restrictions remain on the right of assembly and 
association. Municipal permits are required to hold public 
meetings and may be denied by the Government on the grounds of 
endangering national security. However, from the time the 
protest movement began in May, Antananarivo municipal 
authorities granted the opposition permission to hold their 
rallies. Despite the State of Emergency, which technically 
banned political meetings, municipal authorities continued to 
permit opposition rallies to take place. However, in several 
cities, the Government set up security zones which 
demonstrators were not allowed to enter. The violent events 
cited in Section l.a. took place as marchers crossed into these 
security zones. Municipal authorization for rallies and 
marches continued through year's end. 

c. Freedom of Religion 

The Constitution provides for freedom of religion. The 
Government is secular, and there is no discrimination on the 
basis of religious affiliation. Between 40 and 50 percent of 
the population adheres to Christian beliefs, with the remainder 
following traditional Malagasy beliefs, Islam, and other 
faiths. Missionaries and clergy are permitted to operate 
freely. 

d. Freedom of Movement Within the Country, Foreign 
Travel, Emigration, and Repatriation 

There is no restriction on travel within the country. All 
Malagasy must obtain official approval for trips outside the 
country. All residents of Madagascar (Malagasy and foreign) 
require exit visas issued by the Ministry of Interior, but 
these are seldom denied. There is no refugee population in 
Madagascar . 

Section 3 Respect for Political Rights: The Right of Citizens 
to Change Their Government 

At the end of the year, this right remained in question as 
Madagascar had not yet undergone fully free and fair general 
elections. However, a transitional process intended to bring 
about a new constitution and new elections by 1993 was under 
way. Under these interim arrangements brought about by popular 
pressure, governmental power had shifted substantially from 
President Ratsiraka and the institutions of the 1975 
Constitution to Prime Minister Razanamazy and the transitional 
institutions established under the October 31 convention. The 
legislature and Supreme Revolutionary Council had been 
suspended in accord with the convention, and the nonelected, 
transitional institutions that replaced them provided for 
significant opposition representation. A 36-member Cabinet for 
the transitional Government was named in mid-December in which 



216 



MADAGASCAR 

the Active Forces held some key ministries and about 40 percent 
of all seats; the Cabinet had no AREMA members. 

Suffrage is universal, with no discrimination based on sex or 
minority status. There is recognition among members of the 
MMSM, the opposition parties, and civic organizations that the 
electoral system must be reformed in order to prevent such 
abuses as voter intimidation at the local level. 

The electoral system is complex, with individual parties, not 
the national Government, responsible for printing ballots and 
distributing them to all voting sites. Costs associated with 
ballots must be borne by the parties, and only those parties 
garnering a minimum 10 percent of the vote are reimbursed for 
those costs. A special legislative by-election was held on 
February 3 to fill seats in three districts. The MMSM fielded 
three candidates, while the the Active Forces chose to present 
candidates from individual parties rather than the coalition. 
In each case, the MMSM candidate won. Although there were 
allegations of misuse of government assets in favor of the MMSM 
candidates and voter intimidation, the widely respected 
National Committee of Election Observers (CNOE) confirmed that 
the MMSM candidates were in fact the winners. At year's end, 
36 political parties were legally registered in Madagascar. 

The Christian Council of Churches (FFKM) is at the forefront of 
the constitutional reform movement and played a major role in 
mediating the compromise solution of October 31 between the 
Government and the Active Forces. The FFKM is composed of the 
Anglican, Catholic, Lutheran, and Church of Jesus Christ 
(Protestant reformed) Churches, representing about 50 percent 
of the Christian churches operating in Madagascar. 

Section 4 Governmental Attitude Regarding International and 

Nongovernmental Investigation of Alleged Violations 
of Human Rights 

Human rights groups are considered to be political groups under 
Malagasy law and must register with the Government. At the 
beginning of 1991, the National Committee of Election Observers 
attempted to register as a nonpartisan, human rights group but 
was denied registration by the Ministry of the Interior, which 
insisted that CNOE should register as a political group. While 
an appeal to the courts is pending, CNOE continues to function 
and increasingly played a mediation role in 1991 during the 
political crisis. In the last half of the year, a number of 
new human rights organizations emerged, although in no instance 
had the application process for their legal registration been 
completed at year's end. Magistrates have been on strike for 
several months, causing serious backlogs in the legal system. 

The Government historically has not cooperated with groups 
wishing to investigate alleged human rights violations. In 
1991 it did permit visits by regional delegates of the 
International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) to confer on 
educational activities with regional representatives of the 
Malagasy chapter of the Red Cross. 

Section 5 Discrimination Based on Race, Sex, Religion, 
Language, or Social Status 

Madagascar is inhabited by approximately 12 million people, 
mainly of mixed Malayo-Polynesian and African origins, and are 
divided into 18 distinct groups based on regional and ancestral 
affiliation. While legal discrimination does not exist. 



217 



MADAGASCAR 

favoritism based on regional origin is often a determining 
factor in selecting personnel for positions in ministries and 
the private sector. In addition, in 1991 supporters of the 
President attempted to exploit ethnic tensions to counter the 
oppo s i t i on movement . 

An Indo-Pakistani community of about 24,000, primarily engaged 
in commerce, has been in Madagascar since the early part of 
this century. Few have integrated into local society, 
preferring to retain their language, religion, and culture, and 
most have opted to retain French rather than Malagasy 
citizenship. There were several incidents of looting and 
burning of Indo-Pakistani enterprises in the port cities of 
Toamasina and Mahajanga during the months of June, July, and 
August in connection with the protest demonstrations. 

Women have traditionally played a prominent role in the 
business and economic life of the country, with many of them 
managing or owning business concerns or filling management 
positions in state industries. Education at all levels is open 
to women, but the participation of women in secondary and 
higher studies is much lower than that of men. Women in rural 
areas and among the urban poor face a greater degree of 
hardship, bearing the traditional responsibilities of raising a 
family and engaging in farm labor or other subsistence 
activities. Under the law, wives have an equal say in choosing 
where a married couple will reside, and they receive a more or 
less equitable distribution of marital property in divorce 
cases. In the case of the death of a husband, a wife inherits 
one-half of the joint marital wealth. A widow receives a 
pension; however, a widower does not. 

According to various sources, including magistrates, 
journalists, and women doctors, violence against women, such as 
wife beating, is not widespread. Malagasy society tends to 
resolve conflict through a combination of patience and 
negotiation, and marital confrontation is not considered 
acceptable; in the rare cases where physical abuse is detected, 
police and legal authorities do intervene, although there is no 
law dealing specifically with violence against women. 

Section 6 Worker Rights 

a. The Right of Association 

The Malagasy in both the public and private sector have the 
right in law and in practice to establish and join labor unions 
of their own choosing without prior authorization. Unions are 
required to register with the Government, and registration is 
routinely granted. However, the labor force of 4.9 million is 
mostly agrarian (85 percent), and unionized labor accounts for 
less than 5 percent of the total. Many unions are affiliated 
with political parties. 

In organizing workers during opposition rallies this year, the 
Active Forces bypassed the unions and organized "strike 
committees." These committees made the decision to strike or 
not to strike for the opposition throughout the period of 
political turmoil. Civil servants, with the exception of those 
providing "vital services to the nation," and private sector 
workers have the right to strike as provided for in the Labor 
Code, and many strikes occurred in 1991, including a civil f 
servants' strike which lasted over several months and brought 
the Government to a near stop. Opposition calls for general 
strikes to exert pressure on the Government were very effective. 



218 



MADAGASCAR 

Unions may freely form federations or confederations and 
affiliate with and participate in international bodies. There 
are Malagasy members in all three trade union internationals. 

b. The Right to Organize and Bargain Collectively 

Both public and private sector union activity is governed by 
the Labor Code of 1975, which provides for free unions and the 
right to bargain collectively. The Code states that collective 
bargaining may be undertaken between management and labor at 
either party's behest. When there is failure to reach 
agreement, the Ministry of Labor convenes a committee of 
employment inspectors who attempt to resolve the matter. If 
this process fails, the committee refers the matter to the 
Chairman of the Court of Appeals for final arbitration. 
Collective bargaining agreements are not routinely negotiated 
but do exist. In 1991 the strike at the port of Toamasina was 
ended by collective bargaining. 

Although export processing zones are authorized in Madagascar, 
none is currently functioning. 

The Labor Code formally prohibits antiunion discrimination by 
employers against union members and organizers. In the case of 
antiunion activity, the union or its members may file a 
petition in civil court challenging the employer. While union 
activity in this country of high unemployment had been minimal 
in the past, much of the unionized population was on strike 
during the latter half of 1991. In the case of the civil 
service, salaries were paid, though sometimes late, during the 
extended period of the strike, despite acute shortages of funds 
due to the dire state of the economy. 

c. Prohibition of Forced or Compulsory Labor 

Forced labor is explicitly prohibited by the Labor Code and is 
not practiced. 

d. Minimum Age for Employment of Children 

The Labor Code describes a child as any person under the age of 
18. The minimum age for employment is 14, and the use of child 
labor is prohibited in those areas where there is apparent and 
imminent danger. The Government enforces these child labor 
laws relatively effectively in the small wage sector through 
inspectors from the Ministry of Civil Service, Labor, and 
Social Law. However, in the large subsistence agricultural 
sector, many young children work with their parents on family 
farms at much earlier ages. Similarly, in the urban areas, 
many children earn a living as parking attendants, newspaper 
vendors, and through other street trading. 

e. Acceptable Conditions of Work 

The Labor Code and its enforcing legislation prescribe the 
working conditions and wage scales for employees, to be 
enforced by the Ministry of Labor and Social Law. The law 
distinguishes between agricultural and nonagricultural work. 
There is a 44-hour workweek in nonagricultural and service 
industries. There are also provisions for holiday pay, sick 
and maternity leave, and insurance. There are several 
administratively determined minimum-wage rates in Madagascar, 
depending on employment skills. The lowest (for unskilled 
workers) is inadequate to ensure a decent standard of living. 
Accordingly, such workers must supplement their incomes through 



219 



MADAGASCAR 

subsistence agriculture or reliance on the extended family 
structure. Given insufficient enforcement measures, official 
wage rates are sometimes ignored as high unemployment leads 
workers to accept salaries below the legal wage. 

The Labor Code has rules concerning building safety, machinery 
and moving engines, operational safety, and sanitation 
ostensibly enforced by the Ministry of Civil Service and the 
Ministry of Labor and Social Law. Labor inspectors do 
regularly visit industrial sites, and violations of Labor Code 
rules are subject to inspection reports. If cited violations 
are not remedied within a specified time frame, violators may 
be legally charged and subject to penalties. Nevertheless, in 
several sectors, protective measures are lacking due to the 
expense of even minimal protective clothing and other 
protective devices. To date, there have been no published 
reports on occupational health hazards, although there is clear 
evidence that they exist . 

In any case, for 1991 discussions of enforcement of the Labor 
Code were theoretical. Without a functioning government for 
much of the year, and with the civil servants' strike, the 
administrative apparatus was effectively out of operation. 



220 



MALAWI 



Malawi's political, economic, and social development has been 
dominated by Life President Dr. H. Kamuzu Banda ever since he 
led the country to independence in 1964. Dr. Banda is also 
life president of Malawi's sole legal party, the Malawi 
Congress Party (MCP) . In practice, the Cabinet and Parliament 
are subordinate to the MCP Central Committee. Only candidates 
selected by the party and approved by the President may contest 
parliamentary elections. Constitutional amendments and laws 
passed by the Parliament mirror decisions already taken by 
President Banda. 

Police and party security organs — notably the Security and 
Intelligence Service (SIS), the MCP Youth League, and the 
Malawi Young Pioneers (MYP) — closely monitor a wide range of 
the population's activities. The police continue to commit 
serious human rights abuses. In contrast, the army has 
eschewed internal politics. 

Small, densely populated, and landlocked, Malawi is a 
predominantly agricultural economy operating under a relatively 
free enterprise environment. Nearly 90 percent of the 
population engages in subsistence farming. The main cash 
crops, grown mostly on estates, are tobacco, tea, coffee, and 
sugar. Since independence, and with good management, the 
economy has grown steadily, with a major portion of that growth 
in the agricultural sector. 

Malawi's poor hxunan rights record stands in sharp contrast to 
its economic achievements and humanitarian handling of Africa's 
largest refugee population. In 1991 the Government and party 
kept strict control on all aspects of political life, with 
continued restrictions on speech, press, assembly, association, 
and the right of citizens to change their government through 
democratic means. Police abuse of prisoners and detainees, 
including women, persisted. The Government continued also to 
use arbitrary detention, especially under the Preservation of 
Public Safety Act, to counter alleged opponents. The 
Government released 88 political detainees in the first half of 
1991, including Professor Jack Mpanje and several other 
prominent persons long held without charge or trial. It did 
not, however, release Orton and Vera Chirwa, who have long been 
the focal point of international concerns about human rights 
abuses in Malawi, and a number of other political detainees and 
prisoners, estimated at year's end at between 15 and 20. 

RESPECT FOR HUMAN RIGHTS 

Section 1 Respect for the Integrity of the Person, Including 
Freedom from: 

a. Political and Other Extrajudicial Killing 

There were no political killings in 1991. However, Fred 
Kazombo Mwale, a nephew of President Banda and a detainee since 
June 1991, is believed to have died in November while in 
custody. Kazombo suffered from high blood pressure, 
exacerbated by the deleterious conditions of Nsanje Prison. In 
the case of Mkwapatira Mhango, a leading Malawian dissident who 
was murdered in Zambia in October 1989 (along with eight 
members of his family), the five Malawians detained as suspects 
by Zambian authorities were handed over to Malawian officials 
in mid-1991. They were reportedly released 1 month later. 



221 



MALAWI 



Disappearance 



There were no reported cases of disappearance for political 
reasons in 1991. 

c. Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading 
Treatment or Punishment 

Allegations of institutionalized torture persist. Beatings 
during arrest and detention are illegal but common. Guilty 
officers are rarely disciplined. Human rights organizations 
have reported that some criminal prisoners have been subjected 
to "hard core" punishment in which the person is chained naked 
to the floor of a cell and denied adequate food for 30 days. 

Prison terms and conditions are harsh and frequently degrading, 
particularly in Nyachikadza (Nsanje) prison on the Shire river 
marshes in southern Malawi, where malaria is also a constant 
danger. Women appear to be particularly ill-treated, including 
at the country's main prison in Zomba . Reports persist 
concerning sexual abuse of women prisoners by their warders. 

d. Arbitrary Arrest, Detention, or Exile 

Under the Preservation of Public Security Act, the Minister of 
Justice (a position held by President Banda) may order the 
arrest, search, and detention of persons considered a threat to 
public order. Persons arrested under this law may be, and 
usually are, detained without charge or trial. The President 
is supposed to review such cases every 6 months, but this 
constitutional safeguard has had no noticeable effect on 
presidential decisions. 

Police officers may also arrest persons on their own authority 
for up to 28 days before a formal detention order is issued. 
Historically, persons often have been held for months before 
being served detention p'apers, if ever. In 1990 improved 
police performance helped to ensure that most new detainees 
were processed properly within the 28-day limit, but it did not 
prevent the Government from issuing detention orders in 1991 to 
stifle any sign of dissent. 

During the first half of 1991, the President, in an unexplained 
surprise move, released 88 political detainees. None of them 
was even given an official explanation as to why they had been 
detained. Those released comprise more than 80 percent of the 
number of known political detainees and included several 
prominent figures. 

Among those released were Professor Jack Mapanje, former head 
of the University of Malawi's Department of Literature; Dr. 
George Mtafu, Malawi's only neurosurgeon; and Margaret Marango 
Banda, a prominent Anglican lay leader. Mapanje and Mtafu were 
reinstated professionally but immediately went abroad to teach 
and study. Others released without explanation included Brown 
Mpinganjira, Ishmael Mazunda, Blaise Machila, L.W. Masiku, and 
Ian Mbale. 

Among new detentions in 1991 were the two daughters of Gwanda 
Chakuamba Phiri, a former minister convicted and imprisoned in 
1980 for an alleged coup plot. They were held for 2 months for 
allegedly helping their father smuggle out of prison 
correspondence that questioned the country's leadership and 
direction. In May President Banda detained his nephew, 6 5 -year 
old Fred Kazombo Mwale, and imprisoned him at Nsanje prison 



222 



MALAWI 

without charge. He died in November. Two of Kazombo ' s wives 
were also detained, albeit in prisons with better conditions. 
Kazombo reportedly had abused his position as de facto 
patriarch of the President's family to seize lands from 
neighboring smallholders. 

George Chikuni, former Malawian Ambassador to South Africa, was 
arrested in January 1990 for fiscal irregularities while 
assigned to Pretoria. Chikuni was convicted of a misdemeanor 
in 1991, and, after he had spent a year in jail, a magistrate 
gave him a suspended sentence. The police refused to release 
him, possibly because President Banda is known to have 
personally expressed his displeasure over Chikuni ' s behavior. 

Government secrecy precludes an accurate estimate of the number 
of political detainees and prisoners in Malawi, but at the end 
of 1991 experienced observers put the number at between 15 and 
20, including Orton and Vera Chirwa (see Section I.e.). Martin 
Machipisa Munthali, who was first detained in 1965, remained in 
prison at year's end; he is now considered Africa's longest 
serving political detainee. Aleke Banda, once a confidant and 
likely successor to President Banda (no relation), was quietly 
released from Mikuyu prison in late 1988 but is still 
restricted to house arrest on the Mpyupyu prison farm near 
Zomba . He is allowed periodic visits from family members. 
Detained in 1980, Aleke Banda has never been charged. Dr. Dany 
(Goodluck) Mhango, detained in 1987 after his brother 
(Mkwapitira Mhango, murdered in Lusaka in 1989) published 
hostile articles outside Malawi, remained in Mikuyu prison. 
Mary Sikwese, sister of Fred Sikwese, remains in detention 
after she complained about her brother's death while in police 
custody in 1989. Frackson Zgambo, detained with Sikwese, 
allegedly for espionage, also remained in detention. 

Former teachers' association official Kalusa Chimombo has been 
detained since 1978. Others detained include Sylvester Gondwe, 
,he sales manager for a large petroleum distributor; he was 
detained in September for unknown reasons, subsequently 
dismissed from his job, and then released in December. Abdul 
Juneja Lemani , a merchant from the Mwanza district, was 
detained in November after allegedly expressing a lack of 
confidence in the ability of the police to protect area 
residents from border-crossing RENAMO forces. 

While forced exile has not been used as a means of political 
control, there is a small but constant exodus of persons who 
leave for political reasons. 

e. Denial of Fair Public Trial 

Malawi has both traditional and European court systems. Legal 
counsel is permitted only in the modern courts. The right of 
appeal exists in both systems. Both are empowered to try 
capital offenses, including treason, but in practice the modern 
courts hear mostly civil cases. Although constitutionally 
mandated, neither judiciary is truly independent. Executive 
interference in the modern court system is rare in civil cases 
but common in those of a political or security nature, which 
usually come before the traditional courts. 

The European court system consists of magistrate's courts, the 
High Court, and the Supreme Court of Appeal. The President 
appoints the Chief Justice of the High Court and, after 
consultation with the judicial service commission, other court 
justices. The courts are open to the public, and defendants 



223 



MALAWI 

are charged publicly. Crowded dockets, however, can delay 
serious cases from being heard for up to 4 years. In criminal 
cases, the defendant waits in prison during the interval. 

The traditional courts, which try over 90 percent of all 
criminal cases, are the most accessible to the average 
Malawian. Over 300 traditional courts, dispersed among 
Malawi's 24 districts and 3 regions, hear several hundred 
thousand civil and criminal cases each year. Traditional court 
justices are appointed directly by the President, including to 
the National Traditional Appeal Court. In practice, they are 
drawn from the ranks of MCP officers and exercise their party 
responsibilities concurrently. Police officials handle the 
prosecution, and defendants conduct their own defense. 

The executive branch seldom interferes in traditional court 
cases involving customary (tribal) law but does so routinely in 
political and security cases. The traditional courts were 
designed by Orton Chirwa (the first Minister of Justice) to 
handle small claims, family, and customary disputes in order to 
accelerate the delivery of justice to Malawi's largely rural 
and illiterate population. 

Traditional courts were not empowered to try treason cases 
until 1977 when President Banda sought to ensure the conviction 
and subsec[uent execution of a secretary general of the Malawi 
Congress Party who had allegedly plotted his overthrow. 
Similarly, the President directed that Orton and Vera Chirwa be 
tried by the traditional court in 1983 in which few, if any, 
procedural safeguards are available. Banda subsequently 
commuted the Chirwas' death sentences to life imprisonment. 
Despite appeals from many human rights organizations, the 
Chirwas' remained in prison at year's end, reportedly in poor 
health. Orton Chirwa is now 73 years old. 

The Forfeiture Act permits the Government to revoke the 
property rights of those merely suspected of economic crimes, 
such as illegal currency transactions. These revocations 
sometimes have political overtones and have been heavily 
weighted against the Asian community. However, the Act has not 
been invoked in recent years, and in 1991 restitution of 
certain properties seized earlier was made. 

f . Arbitrary Interference with Privacy, Family, Home, or 
Co r r espondenc e 

Police may enter houses of suspects at will under special entry 
authority to conduct searches for incriminating evidence or 
suspects. Telephones are routinely tapped, and an extensive 
network of informers reports private statements and actions to 
the Government. Authorities regularly open domestic and ■ 
international mail and sharply increased this practice in 
1991. Malawi's security services feared the effects of 
accelerating democratization trends in neighboring countries. 

Malawian law permits the Government to designate certain 
districts as "special areas" where citizens may be stopped, 
questioned, and searched on the street. Most special area 
districts are in the north. Although this has been an unused 
statute in recent years, its residual effect has contributed to 
the north's sense of disenf ranchisement . 

« 

Membership in the ruling Malawi Congress Party is not legally 
mandatory, but it is frequently coerced, and membership is 
expected of those who seek access to government services or 



224 



MALAWI 

entrance to local markets, even babies carried on their 
mothers ' backs . 

Section 2 Respect for Civil Liberties, Including; 

a. Freedom of Speech and Press 

Free speech and press are severely circumscribed i Malawi. It 
is an offense, punishable by 5 years' imprisonment, to publish 
anything likely "to undermine the authority of, oc public 
confidence in, the Government." It is punishable by life 
imprisonment to send out of the country "false information" 
which may be "harmful to the interests or good name of 
Malawi." At least one journalist was arrested and held in 1991 
under this provision. In practice, giving critical information 
to foreign journalists can result in detention without trial. 
Any discussion of Malawi's political future or speculation 
about the President's age is prohibited, although the elderly 
President's oft-predicted passing is now a common topic of 
conversation. A few years ago, speculation about the eventual 
succession would have guaranteed detention. 

Malawi's two newspapers and government-owned radio exist 
primarily to catalog the President's words and deeds. 
Nevertheless, local media do not submit material to the 
Government beforehand but exercise careful self-censorship. 
Even so, journalists, including senior editors, have been 
jailed for extended periods after overstepping undefined 
boundaries. In July two editors of the daily newspaper were 
detained by police for between 4 hours and 4 days when they 
published an editorial that implied minor police corruption in 
the traffic department. In the same month, the editor of a 
monthly magazine was detained overnight when he published a 
letter from the dean of the University of Malawi law school 
that gave a legal interpretation of the country's strict dress 
code that was contrary to the interpretation enforced by the 
Inspector General of Police. The law school dean was also 
briefly held. 

Criticism of various government departments' efficiency does 
appear in the newspapers and often in parliamentary debate. 
While reporting on democratic tendencies in Malawi is taboo, 
there was considerable print coverage, but no radio coverage, 
of worldwide democratic developments during 1991, especially in 
other parts of Africa. The multiparty movement in neighboring 
Zambia received surprisingly impartial coverage. 

The newly formed Journalists' Association of Malawi was 
formally registered in 1991 and held a 1-week media workshop to 
highlight the role of the press. The Association also 
remonstrated with the Inspector General of Police when its 
members were briefly incarcerated, a confrontation that would 
have been inconceivable in Malawi only a few years ago. In 
July the June issue of Africa South magazine was banned in 
Malawi because it contained discussion of a report criticizing 
widespread human rights violations. 

Foreign journalists must request permission to enter Malawi and 
must specify in advance the topics they intend to cover. They 
are also asked to specify who they intend to interview. The 
Government continues to permit some Western journalists to 
visit Malawi. 

Academic freedom is limited by the general restrictions on 
speech and press. The long detentions of Professors Mapanje 



225 



MALAWI 

and Machila, who were finally released in 1991, remind 
university professors of the definite bounds to academic 
inquiry. 

b. Freedom of Peaceful Assembly and Association 

Political meetings are not permitted outside the framework of 
the Malawi Congress Party. Persons may be imprisoned if they 
further the aims of an "unlawful society," defined as "any 
group considered to be dangerous to the good government of the 
republic." A gathering of three or more persons may be 
construed as an unlawful assembly under Malawian law. 

Individuals and organizations can and do associate freely 
concerning nonpolitical matters. 

c. Freedom of Religion 

There is no state or preferred religion, and religious groups 
generally may establish places of worship and train clergy. 
However, religious groups are required to register with the 
Government, and an informal presidential decree that no new 
religious groups should be registered in Malawi has taken on 
the force of law. The ban has served to prevent legitimate 
religious groups, such as the Mormons, from establishing a 
registered presence in Malawi. 

Jehovah's Witnesses, whose religious convictions, inter alia, 
prevent them from joining the MCP or any other political party, 
have been banned since 1967. Relations between the Government 
and the Witnesses remain tense and regularly elicit hostile 
outbursts from senior officials. Several Jehovah's Witnesses 
are imprisoned for their religious beliefs. In October some 
local officials publicly criticized Mozambican refugees who 
were openly proselytizing for the Jehovah's Witnesses faith. 
Many of these refugees, it turned out, were originally 
Malawians who had fled Malawi's persecution of the Jehovah's 
Witnesses during the 1970's. However, credible reports 
indicate that several hundred were forcibly repatriated to 
Mozambique. 

Religious publications, like others, may not criticize the 
Government or the party. Most religious groups are free to 
establish and maintain links with coreligionists in other 
countries, and members are free to travel abroad. 
Malawi's sizable Muslim minority (estimated at 20 percent of 
the population) conducts its religion and builds mosques 
freely. Foreign Islamic organizations have funded the latter 
with no governmental interference. 

d. Freedom of Movement Within the Country, Foreign 
Travel, Emigration, and Repatriation 

Legal provisions exist for testricting movement of those 
convicted of political or criminal offenses. Denial of 
passports on political grounds is common. Credible evidence 
suggested that SIS agents followed persons suspected of 
opposition to the Government out of Malawi in 1991. Civil 
servants and employees of state-owned enterprises must obtain 
written permission to travel abroad, even on vacation, although 
such clearance now appears to be routine. 

Formal emigration is neither restricted nor encouraged. 
However, Asian residents and citizens, while free to travel 
within the country, must nominally reside and work in one of 



226 



MALAWI 

four urban areas (Lilongwe, Zomba, Mzuzu, and Blantyre/Limbe) . 
In Lilongwe, a planned capital, they must also live within 
certain neighborhoods. During 1991 the Government did not 
strictly enforce those restrictions. 

Malawi hosts the largest refugee population in Africa. Over 
900,000 Mozambicans — more than 10 percent of Malawi's 
population — are now located in rural areas in nearly half of 
Malawi's 24 districts. Some refugees live in camps, but many 
live within or adjacent to existing villages. In both cases, 
their presence has increased deforestation and put pressure on 
scarce arable land. The strain on Malawi's economy, as well as 
its transportation and social services networks, has been 
severe. More recently, security from cross-border attacks has 
become a greater concern. Public discontent at the burden has 
been rising at an alarming rate, but in 1991 President Banda 
again reaffirmed Malawi's commitment to offer asylum to all who 
are forced to flee Mozambique's brutal civil war. 

There were credible reports that hundreds of refugees were 
forcibly repatriated because they were members of the Jehovah's 
Witnesses, a banned religious group. Voluntary repatriation 
has been very limited. The Government has cooperated with the 
United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees and other 
international relief efforts. 

Section 3 Respect for Political Rights: The Right of Citizens 
to Change Their Government 

Citizens of Malawi cannot change their national government 
through democratic means. Major, and many minor, political 
decisions are made by the President or his closest associates. 
Opposition political parties are prohibited. In 1991 there 
appeared to be emerging support at the grassroots level for a 
multiparty movement, as some persons began to discuss more 
openly a post-Banda political system. 

The Malawi Congress Party structure provides for some choice 
among candidates for party (every 3 years), parliamentary 
(every 5 years), and other offices — all by secret ballot. 
Nominees for political seats, however, are carefully selected 
by the MCP and approved by the President. The National 
Assembly, consisting of both elected and a few appointed 
members, is mainly concerned with ratifying preordained 
policy. Its independence and powers are broadly based in law 
but highly circumscribed in practice. 

Section 4 Governmental Attitude Regarding International and 

Nongovernmental Investigation of Alleged Violations 
of Human Rights 

Local nongovernmental human rights organizations are not 
permitted. At best, human rights issues can be touched on 
tangentially by the Malawi Law Society which, in recent years, 
has been able to debate in public some aspects of existing law 
with increasing candor. In November Justin Malewezi, the 
nation's top civil servant and the government official most 
closely involved with human rights issues, was fired. 
Malewezi, an effective force for constructive change in Malawi, 
had contributed to human rights reform, though his dismissal 
seems not to be related to his work in that area. The 
Government does not permit organizations such as the 
International Committee of the Red Cross and Amnesty 
International to visit prisons or conduct human rights 
invest igat ions . 



227 



MALAWI 

Section 5 Discrimination Based on Race, Sex, Religion, 
Language, or Social Status 

Membership in the ruling party, the MCP, or its organs is not 
open to Malawians of Asian or European descent. In addition 
there are regional differences between the north and the rest 
of Malawi. Northerners have experienced considerable 
discrimination by the Government in the past, most recently in 
1989, when President Banda lent his weight to a campaign that 
resulted in many northerners losing jobs in the south and being 
forced to return to their region or go into exile abroad. 
Several of the most important political prisoners, including 
Orton and Vera Chirwa, are from the northern region. Since 
1990 the Government has made a concerted effort to downplay 
regionalism as a domestic issue. Northerners continued to hold 
important positions within the Government and Parliament, but 
few are permitted to advance to high positions within the 
police, the Government's primary instrument to enforce internal 
security. 

Asian residents, whether Malawian citizens or not, have been 
compelled to transfer ownership of rural shops and trucking 
businesses to ethnic Africans. Strict rules govern where 
Asians may own property, although these were relaxed 
considerably during 1991. Malawi's official government 
hostess, C. Tamanda Kadzamira, has recently gone to 
considerable lengths to draw Asian women into her new National 
Women's Development Organization (CCAM) . Despite these 
informal changes, many persons in the small but prosperous 
Asian community of about 5,000 question their long-term future 
in Malawi . 

In Malawi women are ec[ual under the law, and tribal leadership 
structures remain primarily matrilineal in the central and 
southern regions of the country. However, in practice women do 
not have opportunities equal to those of men. Historically, 
most women have been unable to complete even a primary 
education and are at a serious disadvantage in the job market. 
The Government presently reserves for women 33 percent of the 
places in the secondary school system, although the actual 
number of attendees is less. The Government has also 
cooperated closely with international donors seeking to enhance 
educational opportunities for women at all levels, e.g., with a 
U.S. -assisted $20 million program designed to improve the basic 
education of girls. 

In practice, women are also disadvantaged under the law through 
ignorance. In 1991 the National Commission of Women in 
Development, working with the CCAM and the Malawi Law Society, 
held a well-publicized workshop and began work on the 
publication and distribution of a bilingual handbook on women's 
legal rights. 

The Government is also slowly giving recognition to the 
importance of women as agricultural producers, as approximately 
70 percent of all smallholder farms and over 50 percent of 
subsistence holdings are headed by women. When buying and 
selling "saleable" property, men and women have equal rights. 
However, with "customary" property (land in transition), 
succession in the northern region reverts to male family 
members, whereas succession in the southern region reverts to 
female family members. The Ministry of Agriculture now has a 
separate women's extension program specifically designed to 
accommodate their needs. Women enjoy access to maternal health 



228 



MALAWI 

services and to extension programs, but infant and child 
mortality remain extremely high. 

Malawi continues to maintain a strict dress code for women. 
Pants and shorts are not permitted in public, and dress length 
must be below the knees. In 1991 the police began a strict 
enforcement of these rules; several women were arrested and 
fined. 

Malawi has no tradition of violence against women; however, a 
few small ethnic groups continue to practice female 
circumcision. 

Section 6 Worker Rights: 

a. The Right of Association 

Only nongovernment workers have the legal right to form and 
join trade unions. Unions represent from 10 to 20 percent of 
Malawi's small labor force in the money economy; most organized 
wage workers are unskilled laborers on large agricultural 
estates. Unions are required by law to affiliate with the 
Trade Union Congress of Malawi (TUCM) . The TUCM, like both the 
Employers Consultative Group and the Associated Chambers of 
Commerce, is a private organization ostensibly independent of 
the Malawi Congress Party, but in practice its activities are 
highly circumscribed by the Government. Restrictive colonial 
labor legislation has been subsumed largely intact into 
Malawian law. 

While technically legal, strikes are not tolerated in Malawi. 
Ministry of Labor officers are quick to intervene at the first 
hint of labor unrest. There were no efforts to strike in 1991. 

The TUCM associates with international labor organizations and 
is a member of the Organization of African Trade Union Unity 
and the Southern African Trade Union Coordination Council which 
is headquartered in Lilongwe. 

b. The Right to Organize and Bargain Collectively 

Workers have the legal ri^ht to organize, but the law does 
little to restrict antiunion discrimination by employers. 
Complaints are resolved by the Ministry of Labor. When 
employees and employers cannot reach agreement on a labor 
issue, a labor officer from the Ministry of Labor meets with 
the two sides in an attempt to reach a consensus. This is 
usually successful. The labor officer does not decide the 
outcome himself. 

Collective bargaining is protected by law, but in practice its 
use is limited by stark market realities. Skilled workers are 
in demand in Malawi and have enjoyed relative success when 
negotiating contracts. However, unskilled workers are in 
oversupply, and this holds down their wages. The Government 
does not intervene overtly in the collective bargaining process. 

Management-labor councils (called "work committees") mediate 
labor issues at the workplace. There are standing management- 
labor councils in large industries and businesses. The 
composition of these is generally half labor and half 
management. Grievances of all kinds can be handled by these 
committees (including wage issues) as long as they relate to 
work at that particular place of employment. When wage 
negotiations concern an entire industry nationwide, then the 



229 



MALAWI 

Government involves itself in the discussions, and again all 
parties work until a consensus is reached. 

There are no export processing or free trade zones in Malawi. 

c. Prohibition of Forced or Compulsory Labor 

Forced labor, which was widely practiced during colonial times, 
has never been formally outlawed, but it is opposed by the 
Government and is not practiced. 

d. Minimum Age for Employment of Children 

The minimum working age is 14, but this applies only to the 
small urban wage sector where it can be enforced by labor 
inspectors from the Ministry of Labor. The law concerns young 
workers throughout the country, but it is less easily enforced 
in rural areas. Overall, enforcement is not considered to be 
effective. Also, because there is no law providing compulsory 
education for children, many children are available for daily 
employment. In the large subsistence agriculture sector, where 
most Malawians work, children help on family farms at a much 
younger age. Many also work on plantations, where they are 
paid substantially less than the legal minimum wage. 

e. Acceptable Conditions of Work 

Less than 15 percent of the work force is employed in the 
formal wage sector. In May 1989, the Minimum Wage and 
Conditions of Employment Act nearly doubled the minimum daily 
wages in Malawi's three cities, but perhaps a quarter of the 
work force receives less than the legal minimum wage because of 
poor enforcement and because many workers are unaware they are 
entitled to a minimum wage. The legal minimum wage is not 
adequate for a decent living and is often supplemented by 
additional employment. Minimum wages vary from urban to rural 
areas. For those fortunate enough to hold paying jobs, wages 
and working conditions are generally adequate to maintain 
slightly better than a subsistence standard of living. Many 
subsistence farmers supplement their earnings by working as 
tenants on nearby estates. Labor laws address normal 
employment practices but do not cover tenancy agreements, and 
abuses are widespread. 

The maximum workweek in Malawi is 48 hours or less . Workers 
have Sundays and official holidays off from work or must be 
paid overtime. Paid holidays and safety standards in the 
workplace are required by law. However, enforcement of safety 
standards by Ministry of Labor inspectors is erratic. 



230 



MALI 



In 1991 the 23-year-old, single-party military dictatorship of 
President Moussa Traore was overthrown, leading to the 
establishment of a transitional government which pledged to 
establish a multiparty democracy with free elections by January 
1992. The transition period was later extended to March 26, 
1992. On March 26, 1991, after 4 days of intense 
antigovernment rioting, a group of 17 military officers 
arrested President Traore and suspended the constitution. 
Within days, these officers joined with the Coordinating 
Committee of Democratic Associations to form a predominantly 
civilian 25-member ruling body, the Transitional Committee for 
the Salvation of the People (CTSP) . The CTSP issued a 
fundamental code, the basic governing document for the 
transitional period, and appointed a civilian prime minister 
and transitional government. A National Conference held in 
August produced a proposed new constitution, political parties 
charter, and electoral code. In a referendum on January 12, 
1992, the new Constitution was approved. Lt . Colonel Amadou 
Toumani Toure became Head of State during the transition period. 

The country was affected by rebellious activity in the north, 
which varied from politically motivated rebels seeking an 
autonomous Tuareg state to simple banditry. Rebel activity, 
which started in mid-1990, had subsided by the time the 
previous government signed accords with two rebel groups in 
January 1991. Dissident rebel elements continued sporadic 
attacks in the early part of the year, which escalated after 
the change of government. There were credible reports of 
civilians killed and abducted by rebels, of extrajudicial 
killing committed by the military, and of the theft by rebels 
of vehicles belonging to private voluntary organizations 
involved in food distribution. The transition Government made 
strenuous efforts to find a political solution to the problem 
and held a series of conferences of all parties in late 1991, 
with more scheduled for early 1992. 

Mali's armed forces number some 7,000 and are under the control 
of the Minister of Defense. The gendarmerie (paramilitary 
police) and local police forces have primary responsibility for 
maintaining internal security. Military forces were deployed 
throughout the northern regions of the country to deal with 
insurgency and banditry. The military's credibility was 
profoundly shaken when it used lethal force to put down the 
antiregime demonstrations that led to the arrest of then 
president Traore on March 26. Subsequently, the CTSP made 
strenuous efforts to reestablish discipline among the troops 
and to prepare officers for a changed role for the military 
under civilian democracy, but problems remained, especially in 
the north. 

With an annual per capita gross national product of 
approximately $290, Mali is one of the world's poorest 
countries. Mali's economy rests primarily on subsistence 
farming and animal husbandry, making it highly dependent on 
good rainfalls for its economic well-being. The transitional 
Government continued efforts to modernize the economy through 
fiscal reform and made determined efforts to end government 
corruption. Nonetheless, Mali remained heavily dependent on 
external aid. Private enterprise was encouraged as part of 
economic reform and liberalization programs. 

Although there'were significant violations of human rights in 
1991, especially those associated with the conflict in the 
north and the end of the Traore regime, the change in 



231 



MALI 

government in most respects improved the human rights 
situation. Political rights were greatly expanded, and freedom 
of speech, press, assembly, and association increased 
significantly. The new Constitution provides broad protection 
of human rights and civil liberties. Because of good media 
coverage of the events, more Malians became aware of their 
rights and were less afraid to file complaints when these 
rights were violated. At the end of the year, the transition 
Government had taken many steps toward the establishment of a 
multiparty democracy based on the rule of law, including 
scheduling municipal, legislative, and presidential elections 
for early 1992. 

RESPECT FOR HUMAN RIGHTS 

Section 1 Respect for the Integrity of the Person, Including 
Freedom from: 

a. Political and Other Extrajudicial Killing 

There were no reports of targeted political killings. There 
were, however, numerous instances of extrajudicial killing by 
security forces using excessive force in putting down 
antiregime demonstrations in Bamako and in dealing with the 
rebellion in the north (see Section l.g.). 

b. Disappearance 

Rebels frequently abducted civiliams during raids on villages. 
Some of them were released, others are known to be held by 
rebels, but the whereabouts of still others are unknown. 
Although there were no reported incidents of abduction or 
hostage-taking attributcible to the Government, there reportedly 
have been incidents in which persons detained by security 
forces in the north have been killed (see Section l.g.). 

c. Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading 
Treatment or Punishment 

The new Constitution prohibits torture eind inhuman, cruel, 
degrading, or humiliating treatment, and the transitional 
Government made strides toward ending the physical abuse of 
suspected persons which sometimes occurred during police 
interrogation. Widespread publicity given to issues of human 
rights made citizens more willing to complain, which 
constrained individual police officers in their treatment of 
arrestees. The transitional Government also improved 
conditions in prisons, rebuilding the Bamako central jail, 
improving food and medical services, and separating hardened 
criminals from lesser offenders. In addition, it authorized 
the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) to conduct 
a seminar for prison officials on the treatment of prisoners. 
Many prisons outside the capital, however, are still harsh and 
are characterized by inadequate medical facilities and food 
supplies. 

d. Arbitrary Arrest, Detention, or Exile 

The Malian judicial system is based on the French model, and 
the fundamental code and the new Constitution expanded the 
rights of arrested individuals. Persons arrested must be 
charged or released within 48 hours. Malian law does not 
provide for release on bail, but detainees are sometimes 
released on their own recognizance. Administrative backlogs 
often cause delays in bringing people to trial. The new 



232 



MALI 

Constitution gives arrested persons the right to have a lawyer 
of their choice present at all questioning; even before the 
constitution was promulgated, persons began to demand that this 
right be accorded them. Lawyers are quite active in making 
sure detainees have representation; many provide pro bono 
service. 

A number of Tuaregs were detained by military authorities in 
the wake of rebel and bandit attacks in the northern regions. 
By November all those detained had been released, except for 22 
persons who were transferred to Bamako and charged with 
specific crimes. Those Tuaregs arrested during 1990 were 
released after the signing of the Tamanrasset Accords in 
January 1991. 

At the time of the overthrow of the previous regime, the former 
president, his family, all government ministers and members of 
the party executive committee, and many others were detained. 
Following investigations by a special commission of the 
judicial police, the investigating judge formally charged all 
former officials with specific violations of the law and 
initiated detailed investigations of the cases, as required, 
prior to trial. Two of the "former" president's children 
continue to be detained without charge. Two other children and 
one grandchild are being held in protective custody. 

Detention of political demonstrators, which was sometimes 
practiced by the previous regime, was discontinued under the 
transitional Government. Many Malians who were in exile under 
the previous regime returned to live in their country in 1991. 

e. Denial of Fair Public Trial 

The transitional Government basically retained the existing 
court structure, with two notable changes: it declared the 
judiciary independent of the legislative and executive power, 
and it abolished the special court of state security, which 
operated outside the regular judicial system. 

The Fundamental Code and the new Constitution provide for the 
independence of the judiciary. However, the Ministry of 
Justice appoints judges and supervises both law enforcement and 
judicial functions. The Superior Judicial Council, which 
supervises judicial activity, is headed by the President of the 
Republic. The Supreme Court has both judicial and 
administrative powers. Under the Constitution, there will be a 
separate constitutional court and a high court of justice, with 
the power to try senior government officials in cases of 
treason. 

Except in the case of minors, trials are public and defendants 
have the right to be present and to have an attorney of their 
choice. Defendants are presumed innocent and have the right to 
appeal decisions to the Supreme Court. Many members of the 
former government, including the former president and his wife, 
were charged by the regular criminal court with corruption and 
embezzlement; others have been formally charged with violations 
of law in connection with the shooting of demonstrators during 
the riots in January and March. The Government pledged to try 
these persons in accordance with the law and prevented efforts 
by some groups to use the National Conference as a popular 
tribunal. No trials had begun by the end of the year. All 
members of the former government reportedly had access to 
lawyers. 



233 



MALI 

Another concern was a wave of vigilante justice which erupted 
after the overthrow of the previous regime, but it declined by 
the end of 1991. In the wake of massive jailbreaks and overall 
lack of confidence in the security system, mobs in Bamako and 
other towns on more than 15 occasions captured and killed 
suspected thieves. However, special police units in several 
cases rescued threatened individuals and treated them in 
accordance with the law. 

f . Arbitrary Interference with Privacy, Family, Home, or 
Correspondence . 

Inviolability of the home is provided for in both the old and 
new Constitutions and generally is respected in practice. 
Police searches are infrequent, and warrants are issued by a 
judge and recorded, though sometimes after the fact. Local 
authorities sometimes seize and open mail extralegally . 

g. Use of Excessive Force and Violations of Humanitarian 
Law in Internal Conflicts 

In March, during 4 days of rioting and demonstrations which 
preceded the overthrow of the previous regime, security forces 
in Bamako and several other cities opened fire on 
demonstrators, killing 216 and wounding 717. Some of the 
killings occurred while demonstrators were looting and burning 
government buildings; many others occurred as security forces 
attempted to stop peaceful demonstrations. In addition, there 
are credible reports that 65 persons died when security forces 
set fire to a building into which demonstrators had fled. The 
transitional Government arrested and charged a number of senior 
military officials who were believed responsible for issuing 
live cimmunition to the troops. 

The Tuareg rebellion in the north resulted in the deaths of 
many civilians, rebels, and Malian military and government 
officials. The number of dead in the conflict is uncertain, 
but at least 39 civilians were killed by Tuaregs in at least 29 
attacks. In one case, the Government reports a woman was 
killed by rebels after she refused to accompany them back to 
their camp. 

The military's response to these attacks included reprisals 
against unarmed Tuaregs and Maurs. On November 14, soldiers 
summarily executed 10 Tuareg civilians near Menaka in reprisal 
for the killing of military dependents earlier that day, 
according to credible reports. In Timbuktu on December 12, 
soldiers murdered leading Tuareg notable and government 
supporter Mohamadoum Ag Hamani and eight members of his 
household following an attack, possibly by a Tuareg faction, on 
the Governor's residence. There were confirmed reports that, 
on May 21, a group of soldiers summarily executed 34 nomads in 
Lere, and credible reports that in July they executed 15 more 
near Tonka. The President repudiated such behavior, and the 
Government reportedly transferred and disciplined the soldiers 
involved, but no one was arrested or tried, largely out of 
concern over possible military discontent should the officers 
be publicly humiliated. 

Aside from those who died or were wounded in rebel attacks and 
army reprisals, many nomads lost cattle herds, and commercial 
enterprises were destroyed. Rebels stole vehicles from private 
voluntary organizations, making food distribution in the region 
extremely difficult. The number of deaths in the conflict is 
difficult to estimate. Credible reports put total civilian 



234 



MALI 

Tuareg deaths at the hands of the military at around 70. It is 
likely that the Malian military and the various rebel and 
bandit groups lost as many as 150 people each. 

Section 2 Respect for Civil Liberties, Including: 

a. Freedom of Speech and Press 

With the installation of the transitional Government in March, 
Malians enjoy virtually complete freedom of speech and press. 
Both the Fundamental Code and the new Constitution contain 
strong affirmations of these freedoms. At the National 
Conference, citizens from all segments of society voiced 
opinions, including often strong complaints, about government 
policy and leaders and direct criticism of the President of the 
Transitional Council, which were broadcast live on the 
state-owned radio system. 

There are some 15 independent newspapers and journals. The 
government-owned newspaper and radio and television system are 
open and give space to a wide range of views. In September the 
transitional Government announced that it would allow the 
creation of private radio and television stations, and a 
subcommission was established under the Minister of 
Communications to prepare regulations for private 
broadcasting. By the end of the year, two private radio 
stations were operating in Bamako. 

Political meetings take place openly and without interference. 
The political pressures which previously inhibited academic 
freedom have all but disappeared. 

b. Freedom of Peaceful Assembly and Association 

One of the first acts of the CTSP was to allow the free 
formation of political parties and other associations. The 
Constitution affirms this right. Some 46 political parties and 
at least as many professional and special interest associations 
were formed and operated freely. While no parties have 
established formal ties with those in other countries, there 
are no restrictions on their doing so. Permits must be 
obtained for mass demonstrations, but these are now routinely 
granted. 

c. Freedom of Religion 

Mali's status as a secular state is reconfirmed in the new 
Constitution. The Government generally does not discriminate 
on religious grounds. Although 90 percent of Malians are 
Muslim, members of other religions practice their faiths freely 
and are permitted to establish houses of worship and schools. 
Christian missionaries of various faiths, including foreign 
missionaries, operate freely. Proselytizing and conversion are 
permitted, except in the case of the Baha ' i . The Government 
prohibits publications in which one religious group defames 
another; the Minister of Territorial Administration determines 
whether such a publication is defamatory. This law is rarely 
app 1 i ed , howeve r . 

While administrative orders promulgated in 1977 prohibiting 
Baha'i from meeting in groups of more than three people remain 
in force, these orders are not enforced, and Baha'i practice 
their faith without interference. 



235 



MALI 

d. Freedom of Movement Within the Country, Foreign 
Travel, Emigration, and Repatriation 

Freedom of movement in Mali is generally unimpeded, although 
police checks occur in which Malians and foreigners alike are 
stopped, particularly at night. These checks are used 
ostensibly to restrict the movement of contraband goods and to 
check vehicle registrations. In practice, some police 
supplement their salaries by assessing ad hoc fines or 
confiscating goods. As part of its ant i corrupt ion campaign, 
the Government attempted to end these abuses. An exit visa is 
no longer required. 

In recent years, Mali has both accepted and generated 
refugees. Some 13,000 Mauritanian Peuhl refugees who fled 
strife in their country in 1989 settled in Mali and were 
generally absorbed into the local economy. Some 140 Liber ian 
refugees who fled to Mali in 1990 were relocated to Cote 
D'lvoire in 1991 under a program of the United Nations High 
Commissioner for Refugees. In 1991 the insecurity in Mali's 
northern regions led some 18,000 Malian Maurs and Tuaregs to 
flee to Mauritania and thousands to flee to Algeria, perhaps 
35,000, according to Malian government estimates. Several 
thousand Tuaregs who had fled drought conditions in 1984-85 and 
had begun to be repatriated to Mali in 1990 returned to Algeria 
as refugees . 

Section 3 Respect for Political Rights: The Right of Citizens 
to Cheuige Their Government 

During 23 years of single-party military rule, Malians were 
unable to change their government through peaceful means . 
However, the Transitional Committee for the People's Salvation 
(CTSP), which assumed power in March, laid the groundwork for 
multiparty democracy in which citizens will be able to elect 
their government and change it through peaceful means . 

The CTSP is made up of 15 civilians representing organizations 
which led the prodemocracy movement (including the national 
labor union) and 10 military officers, led by Lt . Colones 
Amadou Toumani Toure, who is Head of State for the transition 
period. Upon assuming power, the CTSP appointed a transition 
Government comprising mainly technocrats charged with 
day-to-day operations of the Government and with conducting 
elections planned for early 1992. The CTSP almost immediately 
allowed the formation of political parties, with the only 
restriction being a prohibition against parties based on 
religion, ethnic group, region, or gender. By September there 
were some 46 registered political parties. 

In August a widely representative national conference adopted a 
proposed new constitution, a political parties charter, and an 
electoral code, which will be the basic documents of the new 
political system. The new Constitution, which contains broad 
provisions on civil rights and liberties, was adopted in a 
referendum on January 12, 1992. It provides for direct 
election of the President for a term of 5 years (with a limit 
of two terms), direct election at the district level of members 
of the National Assembly, a separation of executive, 
legislative, and judicial powers, and control of the military 
by the President. Members of the CTSP and military officers 
who wished to stand for office were rec[uired to resign their 
posts by the end of August. Members of the transitional 
Government were excluded from running for office in these 
elections. The Government immediately began preparations for 



236 



MALI 

the elections, and political parties started operations 
throughout the country. The test of the system will come in 
the elections and completion of transfer of power from the CTSP 
to the newly elected president, including the return of the 
military to their barracks, now scheduled for March 26, 1992. 

Section 4 Governmental Attitude Regarding International and 

Nongovernmental Investigation of Alleged Violations 
of Human Rights 

The independent Malian Association for Human Rights (AMDH), 
established in 1989, was prominent in the prodemocracy movement 
and active in the drawing up of the new Constitution. Two of 
its members sit on the CTSP. AMDH lawyers represent individual 
cases of human rights violations before courts and work to 
inform people of their rights. There was some concern that the 
AMDH's representation on the CTSP and the involvement of its 
president in a political party would jeopardize its 
independence. The Fundamental Code and the new Constitution 
make reference to the universal declaration of human rights. 

The transitional Government addressed some human rights 
questions much more forthrightly than did the previous 
government and has been much more open with international 
organizations concerned with human rights questions. It 
replied publicly to Amnesty International's letters regarding 
the military's killing of Tuaregs in Lere and Tonka in May and 
July. It has invited the ICRC to observe the situation in the 
north and published information about the ICRC's activities. 
ICRC representatives are stationed in two northern towns and 
are permitted to travel widely. They have visited persons 
abducted by rebels and toured all civilian and military 
detention facilities in the north. The Government also allowed 
the ICRC and the local human rights association access to 
members of the former government who were under arrest or being 
detained. 

Section 5 Discrimination Based on Race, Sex, Religion, 
Language, or Social Status 

Virtually all of Mali's ethnic and language groups are 
represented at all levels of government and society, and suffer 
little discrimination. The nomad populations are not 
completely integrated into the economic and political 
mainstream, however, and they resent being politically 
dominated by other, more numerous ethnic groups. In April and 
May, Tuareg and Maur nomadic groups became the target of ethnic 
rioting in Gao and Timbuktu in reprisal for attacks by rebels 
on the local population. While there was evidence of 
complicity of some elements of the security forces, there were 
also eyewitness accounts of police rescuing potential victims. 
The Government attempted thereafter to try to reduce 
interethnic strife as part of its overall efforts to restore 
security in the north. At the end of 1991, tension and racial 
polarization remained high throughout the north. 

Although the new Constitution reaffirms that there shall not be 
discrimination, social and cultural factors place men in the 
dominant position in Mali. There are a number of women in the 
professions and in important posts in government — three members 
of the transitional Government are women — but economic and 
educational opportunities for women are limited. Women live 
under harsh conditions, especially in the rural areas. 
According to a 1991 United Nations report, females in Mali 
receive only 29 percent of the schooling of males. 



237 



MALI 

Traditional practice and existing Kalian laws place women at a 
disadvantage with regard to family and property rights. 
However, many newly formed women's organizations began actively 
seeking the improvement of women's rights, and many questions 
were addressed at the national conference, with the goal of 
improving the condition of women. 

Violence against women, including wife beating, is accepted in 
Malian society, though there are no statistics to indicate how 
widespread it may be. The society generally does not tolerate 
spousal abuse resulting in physical injury and deals with the 
problem informally at the village level; for example, a village 
chief may intervene to stop the abuse and punish the 
perpetrator. Legal action for redress of injury is not 
normally available, although severe physical injury is grounds 
for divorce. The issue of spousal abuse was not addressed by 
the transitional Government. Many of the new women's 
organizations and some independent journals campaign against 
female circumcision, which is still a widely accepted practice 
in Mali. The transition Government continued radio and 
television broadcasts intended to discourage female 
circumcision but did not pass legislation prohibiting the 
practice. 

Section 6 Worker Rights 

a. The Right of Association 

The new Constitution specifically provides for the freedom of 
workers to form or join unions and, unlike the old 
constitution, does not limit them to the National Union of 
Malian Workers (UNTM) . While most unions are still part of the 
UNTM, higher education teachers left the teachers' branch of 
the UNTM and created an independent union which has been 
officially recognized by the Ministry of Education. The UNTM 
was a leading force in the movement that led to the overthrow 
of the previous regime. Three of its members, including its 
President, now sit on the ruling Transitional Committee for the 
People's Salvation (CTSP), though the UNTM has maintained its 
independence from the Government . 

The new Constitution provides for the right to strike. After 
the fall of the previous government, there were several 
strikes, some for higher wages, some for improved working 
conditions, and some to demand different managers in state 
enterprises. These strikes were generally resolved by 
negotiations between the labor unions, the new Government, and 
the economic entity involved. While strikes were rarely 
allowed under the previous regime, the UNTM held a 2-day 
general strike in January to demand higher wages and called a 
general strike in March to demand the resignation of former 
President Traore. 

b. The Right to Organize and Bargain Collectively 

The change in government reduced some of the constraints on 
workers' rights to organize and bargain collectively, notably 
by ending the UNTM's legal status as the sole union. Wages and 
salaries for those workers belonging to UNTM unions are still 
set by tripartite negotiations between the Ministry of Labor, 
the labor unions, euid representatives of the federation of 
employers of the sector for which the wages are being set . 
Workers in some industries also created associations which 
started to function like unions to make demands and operate 
outside of the tripartite system. The new Constitution does 



238 



MALI 

not address the question of antiunion discrimination. No 
export processing zones exist in Mali. 

c. Prohibition of Forced or Compulsory Labor 

The new Constitution prohibits forced or compulsory labor. 
Although not sanctioned or upheld by law, debt slavery 
reportedly exists in the salt mining communities north of 
Timbuktu. Since the change of government in March, however, 
many of those treated as slaves have refused to continue 
working under those conditions. 

d. Minimum Age for Employment of Children 

The minimum age for employment is 14, but with parents' 
permission children may be apprenticed at age 12. In practice, 
many employers ignore this regulation. In addition, children 
in rural areas and in the informal sector are not protected by 
laws against unjust compensation, excessive hours, and 
capricious discharge. The labor inspection service of the 
Ministry of Labor is responsible for enforcement of child labor 
laws. The law is reasonably effective in the modern sector but 
has no effect on the vast number of children who work in the 
informal sector . 

e. Acceptable Conditions of Work 

Mali has a detailed Labor Code specifying conditions of 
employment, including hours, wages, and social security 
benefits. The legal workweek is 40 hours, with a requirement 
for at least one 24-hour rest period. Workers must be paid 
overtime for additional hours. There are legal minimum wage 
scales, most recently adjusted in 1991, which are supplemented 
by a required package of benefits, including social security 
and health care benefits. While this could provide a minimum 
standard of living if it went to support only one person, most 
wage earners support extended families. In addition, most 
people work in the informal sector, outside the realm of these 
rules and conventions. The Social Security Code provides a 
broad range of legal protection against hazards in the 
workplace, and workers' groups have put pressure on employers 
to respect parts of the regulations, particularly those 
affecting personal hygiene. With unemployment high, however, 
workers are sometimes reluctant to report violations of 
occupational safety. While in theory the labor inspection 
service of the Ministry of Labor oversees these standards, 
there is limited enforcement due to the lack of inspectors. 



239 



MAURITANIA 



The Islamic Republic of Mauritania has been governed since 1984 
by the Military Committee for National Salvation (CMSN) under 
the chairmanship of Colonel Maaouya Ould Sid 'Ahmed Taya, who is 
also Chief of State. The Military Committee functions 
nominally as a legislative body under the direction of 
President Taya, while the President, assisted by his Council of 
Ministers and a few close advisors, wields executive power. 

In the latter half of 1991, the Government, in response to 
mounting public criticism and international isolation, took 
steps to encourage the development of multiparty democracy in 
Mauritania. In July a new Constitution was adopted by 
referendum, and subsequently ordinances were promulgated 
permitting political parties, establishing freedom of the 
press, and granting amnesty to all political prisoners. The 
President announced that legislative and presidential elections 
would be held before April 1992 and promulgated new electoral 
laws. Several newly formed opposition parties intend to 
contest the elections while challenging the fairness of the 
electoral procedures announced to date . 

Mauritanian security forces number between 16,000 and 18,000 
and include the regular armed forces, the National Guard, the 
Gendarmerie (a specialized corps of paramilitary police), and 
the police. The Gendarmerie is directed by the Ministry of 
Defense, while the National Guard and police come under the 
Ministry of Interior. As in previous years, the security 
forces continued to be responsible for widespread human rights 
violations. The significant difference in 1991 was that, for 
the first time, abuses perpetrated by the security forces were 
directed in the main at a purge of their own ranks. 

Most of Mauritania's 1.9 million inhabitants, either nomadic 
herders or settled farmers, live within a subsistence economy. 
Mauritania is burdened with numerous long-term economic and 
social problems: drought, desertification, insect infestation, 
extensive unemployment, rapid inflation, one of the highest per 
capita foreign debts in Africa, minimal infrastructure, 
inadecjuate health and education systems, and growing 
urbanization. Low rainfall levels over the past years have 
forced large numbers of nomads into towns, with a consequent 
weakening of traditional Maur nomadic culture and a severe 
strain on government resources. 

Although the military leadership has tried carefully to 
maintain control, the reform process shows some promise of 
enabling Mauritanians to deal with their economic problems and 
ethnic tensions in the future within the framework of a more 
open political system. Meanwhile, the actual human rights 
situation in Mauritania did not improve in 1991. In fact, the 
arbitrary arrest, detention, and torture by the armed forces of 
up to 3,000 persons represented a serious human rights 
regression. Those arrested (almost exclusively from the black 
Mauritanian Halpulaar ethnic groups) were accused of plotting 
to overthrow the Government, but none of them was ever charged 
with any crime. There is credible evidence that many, if not 
all, of the detainees were subjected to harsh interrogation 
technicpies and brutal torture, in some cases over a period of 7 
months, in order to extract self-incriminating confessions. 
Although the Government announced that all detainees were 
released by mid-April 1991, approximately 500 remain 
unaccounted for and are presumed dead. Of those who survived 
the detention and torture, very few have been reintegrated into 
the military (or, in the case of civilians, into their former 



240 



MAURITANIA 

jobs). On the other hand, the niimber of human rights abuses in 
the riverine area bordering Senegal decreased markedly since 
late 1990 as a result of a gradually improving political 
atmosphere between the two Governments . 

Some restrictions on freedom of the press were eased. The 
right to a fair public trial, the right of citizens to change 
their government, and worker rights remained restricted. 

RESPECT FOR HUMAN RIGHTS 

Section 1 Respect for the Integrity of the Person, Including 
Freedom from: 

a. Political and Other Extrajudicial Killing 

There continued to be a number of extrajudicial killings of 
persons, particularly non-Arabic (Hassaniya)-speaking black 
Mauritanians . Whereas most of the riverine violence in 1989 
and 1990 ■■stemmed from mass expulsions and suppression of 
resulting cross-border raiding, the nature of violence changed 
substantially in 1991. Most disputes in the riverine area in 
1991 arose from arguments over land and property, including 
cases of Mauritanian expellees who returned home to find their 
belongings had been expropriated. 

Also in 1991, security forces continued their occasional 
practice of arbitrarily killing non-Hassaniya-speaking blacks, 
who make up the majority of the population living along the 
Senegal river. For example, in September Mamadou Amadou Watt 
was shot to death in his own home, reportedly by a national 
guardsman. The victim and the perpetrator reportedly had 
earlier disagreed over a bribe that the victim had refused to 
pay. No one has yet been charged or arrested in this incident, 
which took place in the town of Olologo in the Brakna region. 
Although the frecjuency of these types of killings substantially 
diminished in 1991, they continued to occur. As in previous 
years, there were no reports of government inquiries into the 
incidents or any efforts to punish those responsible. 

The principal example of extrajudicial killing was the presumed 
deaths of approximately 500 largely Halpulaar and Soninke 
military and civilian personnel alleged to have attempted to 
overthrow the Government. These persons were part of a larger 
group — possibly as many as 3,000 — who were rounded up, 
detained, and tortured in prison (see Section I.e.). To date 
the Taya Government has not provided credible evidence of such 
a plot, and critics claim the Government used this charge to 
mask a purge of blacks from the military and civil service. 
The results of an internal military investigation have not been 
made public, and no one has been charged with or faced trial 
for the tortures and deaths. It appears that the highest 
levels of the military hierarchy — including several members of 
the ruling CMSN--were involved and may personally have taken 
part in torture or execution. Although two CMSN members were 
placed on probation and removed from their commands for 6 
months, presumably for their role in the events, they have now 
been reintegrated, promoted to full colonels, and given new 
responsibilities. Two other high-ranking officials said to be 
implicated also received promotions during the year. 
Furthermore, some of the officials named to the investigative 
board may themselves have been involved in the incidents. 
A local press investigation implicated the police in four 
suspicious homicides in 1991. The Government has neither 



241 



MAURITANIA 

acknowledged these allegations nor taken any measures to 
investigate them. 

b. Disappearance 

It is impossible either to enumerate or confirm instances of 
disappearances in Mauritania for the past year. Of the many 
(up to 3,000) Halpulaar and Soninke military officers, enlisted 
men and civilians who were arrested and tortured in military 
custody for involvement in an alleged coup attempt, 
approximately 500 never returned to their homes. They are 
presumed to have died, although the Government has refused to 
confirm this. 

c. Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading 
Treatment or Punishment 

Despite the Government's stated opposition to torture and the 
legal prohibition against its use, the security forces—^ 
routinely mistreated persons in custody, particularly political 
dissidents and black Mauritanians. Many of the detainees 
arrested in the fall of 1990 in connection with the alleged 
coup plot were subjected to particularly brutal interrogation 
techniques, as security forces attempted to extract 
self-incriminating confessions of involvement. According to 
those who survived, scores of officers and enlisted men 
participated in the mistreatment of prisoners. These incidents 
took place in at least a dozen military bases, prisons, and 
installations throughout the country. 

The forms of torture included beatings, forced feeding of sand, 
electrocution, anal rape, burning of genitals, denial of water 
and food, and the so-called jaguar technique, in which victims 
are bound and suspended upside down while the soles of their 
feet are beaten. Prisoners detained at military installations 
at Jreida and at Inal, for example, were held in cramped and 
unsanitary quarters, denied adequate food and water, chained 
for prolonged periods, frequently beaten, and forced to sign 
confessions. One survivor from Jreida said that he had been 
held in a single large room with roughly 100 other persons. 
All prisoners were forced to sit in fixed positions, with 
wrists chained to ankles. They were fed small portions of rice 
and water twice daily. They had no separate access to toilets, 
and as sanitary conditions rapidly deteriorated, many became 
ill with beri-beri and other gastrointestinal disorders. This 
witness estimated that 15 to 20 of the prisoners with whom he 
was confined were taken away and never returned, so he presumed 
that they had been killed. Another Jreida survivor stated that 
he was held in solitary confinement for many days in a one-room 
cell measuring one square meter, so that he was forced to sleep 
diagonally with his legs propped against one wall. He received 
one piece of bread daily, along with a bowl of rice mixed with 
sand. 

Survivors from the military facility at Inal, where up to 200 
prisoners reportedly died, have said that some of the detainees 
there were tied by their testicles to the rear of 
four-wheel-drive vehicles and dragged at high speeds through 
the desert. Several detainees, including Captain Lome 
Abdoulaye, a former senior officer in the Mauritanian Navy, 
died as a result of this particular treatment. It was also at 
Inal that 28 prisoners were hung simultaneously on November 28, 
1990, ostensibly "in celebration" of Independence Day. A 
survivor of military custody at Nema stated that his accusers 
tied him to a tree, removed his trousers, and tied ropes to his 



242 



MAURITANIA 

genitals. They then pulled the ropes tightly each time the 
victim refused their demands to confess to involvement in the 
alleged coup plot. The same witness said that a senior officer 
at Nema tortured another victim by setting him afire. A 
survivor of the military installation at N'Beika stated that he 
had been buried alive in the sand, threatened with a pistol to 
his head, and kicked in the face. This survivor is now blind 
in one eye. 

In June police officers in Nouakchott used nightsticks to 
disperse a peaceful protest by female relatives of those who 
had been tortured and killed in prison. Police singled out 
Halpulaar women in the crowd, beating and kicking them. As a 
result, 10 protesters were hospitalized, 5 with serious head 
injuries. 

In late June and early July, four members of the Union of 
Mauritanian Workers (the national trade union) were tortured 
while in police custody. The four had been arrested in the 
aftermath of a street fight that broke out on June 28 between 
union members and police officers. All four were severely 
beaten and subjected to the "jaguar" treatment. One victim 
also suffered cigarette burns on his lips and nostrils. 

d. Arbitrary Arrest, Detention, or Exile 

Although Mauritanian law requires expeditious arraignment and 
trial, access to legal counsel, and the right of appeal, these 
rights are frecjuently not observed, particularly in cases of 
political dissidents or persons suspected on national security 
grounds. They are somewhat more often observed in ordinary 
criminal cases. The courts are required to review the legality 
of a person's detention no more than 72 hours after his or her 
arrest. Until recently, however, it was common practice to 
detain prisoners incommunicado for prolonged periods without 
charging them for any crime and without judicial review. 

In late June and early July, security officers arrested several 
opposition leaders, including seven prominent members of the 
United Democratic Front, a dissident (and then illegal) 
organization. These persons were sent into internal exile at 
various locations around the country, where they remained in 
incommunicado detention for several weeks. They were released 
in a general amnesty at the end of July and were never charged 
with any crime. 

As stated elsewhere, the Government in late 1990 began 
arresting non-Hassaniya-speaking black Mauritanians in the 
military as well as civilian sectors. By the end of the year, 
between 1,500 and 3,000 persons had been arrested and held 
incommunicado. More than 300 of the former detainees have been 
dishonorably discharged from the military without explanation. 
Some also apparently have been denied back pay and other 
benefits due them. 

In addition to the incidents described above, there continued 
to be credible reports in 1991 of arrests, intimidation, 
prolonged detention, and expulsion committed by security forces 
in communities along the Senegal river. 

e. Denial of Fair Public Trial 

There are three types of courts: the Shari'a, the special 
courts, and the State Security Court. The legal system 
functions primarily under the Shari'a (Islamic law). While the 



243 



MAURITANIA 

judiciary is nominally independent, many observers believe that 
judges take their cues from the Government when sentencing 
opponents of the regime. The Ministry of Justice administers 
the Shari'a and selects judicial personnel. The use by Islamic 
judges of extreme physical punishments, such as amputations, is 
no longer practiced in Mauritania. The Government also is 
slowly eliminating a number of unqualified Shari'a judges. 
Judges cannot be tenured until they have completed 7 years of 
service. 

Commercial and banking offenses, traffic violations that cause 
bodily harm, and offenses against the security of the state 
fall under the jurisdiction of the special courts, which 
supposedly render judgments on the basis of laws modeled after 
the French example. The effective implementation of justice in 
these courts is particularly problematic because the majority 
of Mauritanian judges have been trained neither at the 
university level nor in the French juridical tradition. 

In theory, all defendants, regardless of the court or their 
ability to pay, have the legal right to be present with legal 
counsel during the proceedings. Defendants may confront 
witnesses and present evidence. They may appeal the sentences 
of the ordinary courts but not those of the State Security 
Court . 

Mauritanian law specifies that all persons, including 
foreigners, have the right to their property and possessions, 
and may be deprived of them only by a court decision. In 1991, 
as in previous years, the practice of justice in Mauritania 
continued to differ substantially from its theory, particularly 
as a result of the wide discretionary powers allowed in 
practice to the forces of order in rural jurisdictions and to 
the lack of trained public defenders. The right to a fair 
public trial was often abused, particularly in the riverine 
area. 

While it is true that large-scale confiscations and expulsions, 
such as those that occurred in the previous 2 years, were not 
repeated in 1991, there were nevertheless occasional reports of 
extrajudicial deportations by security forces in the riverine 
area. None of those expelled had recourse to the courts. In 
many cases, the homes and property of deportees were 
subsequently expropriated by the Government. The Government 
has always maintained that many, if not all, of the persons who 
fled or were expelled were in fact Senegalese nationals, and 
that their Mauritanian identity documents were fraudulent. As 
of late 1991, the Government had failed to set up procedures to 
permit access to the courts by expellees who wished to obtain 
confirmation of their citizenship and the right to return to 
Mauritania. However, in the general context of improving 
relations with Senegal, informal arrangements with security 
forces resulted in a number of expellees returning home. 

f . Arbitrary Interference with Privacy, Family, Home, or 
Correspondence 

Under Mauritanian law, judicial warrants are recpaired to 
perform home searches. This requirement is often ignored in 
practice in "national security" cases. There were in 1991 
repeated reports of government surveillance of suspected 
dissidents. Intimidation and harassment of 

non-Hassaniya-speaking black Mauritanians in the Senegal river 
valley also continued on a regular basis. 



50-726 - 92 



244 



MAURITANIA 
Section 2 Respect for Civil Liberties, Including: 

a. Freedom of Speech and Press 

Mauritanians in the latter half of 1991 experienced for the 
first time limited freedom of speech and press. Ironically, 
the new climate of liberalization was an indirect result of the 
mass detention, torture, and execution of those alleged to have 
plotted to overthrow the Government . As evidence of the 
arrests and deaths came to light in early 1991, the Mauritanian 
public began to demand an explanation from the authorities. 
Wien no such explanation was forthcoming, the public reacted in 
a way it had not before: in print. Ant i government tracts, 
newsletters, and petitions began circulating in Nouakchott and 
other major cities. These were followed by articles in 
international magazines and newspapers, as those who had 
survived the incidents reported them from abroad. By early 
summer, public outrage over the tortures and executions had 
reached a fever pitch, and opposition leaders were for the 
first time calling for Taya's ouster and a complete reworking 
of the political system. In the face of these demands. 
President Taya on July 25 promulgated ordinances permitting the 
creation of political parties and a free press. 

Since that time a lively competition has developed among more 
than a dozen weekly papers, all of which have become 
increasingly bold at criticizing the Government, particularly 
for its perceived insensitivity to, and condonation of, human 
rights abuses. The papers have formed an independent press 
association, which was successful at heading off censorship of 
at least one publication. However, both the press and the 
parties operate within tightly circumscribed limits. All 
newspapers and political parties must register with the 
Ministry of Interior, for example. There is still only one 
daily paper, which is published and controlled by the Ministry 
of Information. Furthermore, the independent weeklies reach 
only a limited audience, not only due to financial constraints 
but also because the majority of Mauritanians cannot read. 
Access to television and radio, to which large numbers of the 
population presumably listen, remains the unique preserve of 
the Ministry of Information. However, the Government has 
stated it will give the opposition parties radio and television 
air time during the electoral campaign. 

The regime continued to sanction publishers for any public 
conments it considered a threat to state security, particularly 
those criticizing the Government's ethnic policies. For 
example, the Government halted publication of the August 1991 
issue of the magazine Mauritanie Demain, which contained 
first-hand accounts of Halpulaars who had survived torture 
while in military confinement. In practice, freedom of 
expression continues to be restricted. Most Mauritanians 
criticize government policies only in conversations with 
friends and relatives. Military personnel are under tight 
surveillance, and views expressed to military colleagues in 
private that could be construed as even mildly critical of the 
Government are likely to cause intense interrogation by 
military security officers. 

b. Freedom of Peaceful Assembly and Association 

Although Mauritanian law guarantees the rights of assembly and 
association, all political movements and activities had been 
prohibited until just recently, and most groups operated 
clandestinely or from outside the country. Even under the new 



245 



MAURITANIA 

ordinances legalizing political parties, all groups must be 
registered with the Minister of Interior and obtain permission 
for large meetings or assemblies. By year's end, the Interior 
Ministry had recognized 12 political parties, all of which held 
open, regular meetings. Despite some government harassment, 
several of the parties also organized large rallies, drawing 
thousands of participants. In late November, the Government 
was criticized for denying a party permit to a group of 
self-proclaimed radical Islamists. The Government justified 
its action by citing the new Constitution, which forbids the 
establishment of parties based on religion. 

c. Freedom of Religion 

Islam is the official religion of Mauritania. Virtually all 
citizens are Muslim. Mauritanian Muslims are prohibited from 
entering non-Islamic houses of worship and from converting to 
another religion. Proselytizing by non-Muslims and the 
construction of Christian churches and other non-Islamic houses 
of worship are prohibited. The Roman Catholic community in 
Mauritania has five churches, which operate freely as long as 
they restrict their services to resident foreigners. 

d. Freedom of Movement Within the Country, Foreign 
Travel, Emigration, and Repatriation 

Traditionally, there have been few restrictions on movement 
within Mauritania, where nomadism has long been a way of life. 
However, following the rupture of relations with Senegal in 
1989 and the attendant violence in the riverine area, local 
authorities imposed and enforced at their own initiative 
dusk-to-dawn curfews in some villages. This practice continued 
in 1991, though on a much-diminished level. Although 
Mauritanians since 1985 have not needed exit visas to travel 
abroad, there are recurrent reports that some 
persons — primarily antiregime activists and 
non-Hassaniya-speaking blacks — were- denied passports for 
unexplained, and possibly political, reasons. 

The 100,000 or more Mauritanian nationals expelled from Senegal 
and Mali in 1990 and earlier were largely reabsorbed into 
Mauritania through govermnent and private means by the end of 
1991. However, as some of them were settled on land belonging 
to expelled Mauritanian residents, the seed of future trouble 
has been planted if those expelled eventually return. 
Approximately 55,000 expelled Mauritanian residents are still 
resident in camps in Senegal, awaiting a political settlement 
between the two countries which could include terms for 
repatriation or indemnification. These refugees, plus an 
additional 13,000 Halpulaar refugees in Mali, were expelled 
from or fled Mauritania beginning in 1989. 

Mauritania has become the refuge for some 18,000 Tuareg and 
Maur refugees fleeing from ethnic strife in Mali's northern 
regions. They live in camps largely supported by an 
international effort led by the United Nations High 
Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) . Finally, as a result of the 
ongoing conflict in neighboring Western Sahara between Morocco 
and the Polisario Front, a small number of refugees from the 
Western Sahara have settled in Nouadhibou and other northern 
towns and have been successfully absorbed into Mauritanian 
society. 



246 



MAURITANIA 

Section 3 Respect for Political Rights: The Right of Citizens 
to Change Their Government 

In 1991 citizens did not have this right. However, the Taya 
Government in the latter part of 1991 took steps in the 
direction of a multiparty system, scheduling presidential 
elections for January 24, 1992. Legislative elections are to 
be held before April 1992. At year's end, all political power 
continued to rest in the hands of the military regime. 

The Military Committee for National Salvation (CMSN) continued 
to wield all executive and legislative functions. Membership 
is limited to military officers, who occupy ministerial 
positions or important military and security posts. The CMSN 
is comprised predominantly of Maurs. Non-Maur membership on 
the CMSN and in other senior civilian and military positions 
has decreased in the wake of ethnic tensions. 

The Government uses a quasi-political organization, the 
Structure for the Education of the Masses (SEM), to mobilize 
people to carry out local improvement projects, to relay policy 
initiatives, and to serve as a channel to discuss grievances. 
SEM's are found at all governmental levels down to villages and 
neighborhoods. In practice, most significant grievances, 
including violence, are discussed at the family, clan, or 
tribal level first and passed along to influential governmental 
figures of the saune family or tribe. In late 1991, there was 
rising public sentiment against the SEM's, which according to 
many were a conduit for patronage and election fraud in the 
municipal elections held in previous years. Opposition parties 
were demanding that the SEM's be dismantled. 

The parties criticized the Government for the way it 
implemented the new Constitution and for its control of 
election planning. The parties also demanded that Taya step 
down in favor of a transitional government. Taya made several 
unilateral concessions but did not accede to the opposition's 
principal demands for a delay of the elections and the 
installation of a neutral transition government. 

The opposition argued that the new Constitution was neither 
drafted in consultation with opposition leaders nor approved by 
a majority of the population. The Constitution was adopted in 
a controversial July referendum; the opposition disputes the 
Government's claims that 85 percent of the population went to 
the polls and that 96 percent of those voting favored adoption 
of the document. Notwithstanding the complaints about the 
electoral process, four persons, including President Taya, are 
candidates for the Presidency. 

Section 4 Governmental Attitude Regarding International and 

Nongovernmental Investigation of Alleged Violations 
of Human Rights 

The only officially recognized human rights organization within 
the country is the Mauritanian Human Rights League. Many 
Mauritanians and international observers no longer consider the 
League a viable or independent organization. Not since July 
1989 has it publicly commented on or questioned the 
Government's human rights excesses. A new human rights 
organization is in gestation but had not been legally 
recognized by the Ministry of Interior by the end of the year. 

In the wake of the 1989 dispute with Senegal and the 1990/early 
1991 detentions and deaths, the Taya regime took a defensive 



247 



MAURITANIA 

posture toward h\inian rights investigations. It refused to 
appoint an independent commission to investigate the incidents, 
despite continued pressure from foreign countries and 
international nongovernmental organizations. It objected to 
the activities of Amnesty International and Africa Watch, both 
of which published reports on human rights abuses in 
Mauritania. "It also objected to actions by the United States 
Government, including the suspension of military assistance and 
congressional hearings into the human rights situation in 
Mauritania. However, in December, a visiting Mauritanian 
presidential counselor invited Amnesty International and Africa 
Watch to visit Mauritania to observe the human rights situation 
first hand. 

Section 5 Discrimination Based on Race, Sex, Religion, 
Language, or Social Status 

Mauritania is situated geographically and culturally on the 
divide between traditionally nomadic Arabic (Hassaniya)- 
speaking Maurs of the north and the sedentary black cultivators 
of the African south. The interaction of these two groups 
produces complex cultural diversity as well as ethnic tensions 
in Mauritanian society. Historically, the Hassaniya-speaking 
white Maurs have dominated the political and economic system. 
Taken together, the Hassaniya-speaking black Maurs and 
Mauritania's non-Hassaniya-speaking blacks outnumber the white 
Maurs by a considerable majority. This racial majority is by 
no means cohesive, however, because black Maurs identify in 
many ways more closely with the white Maur population. White 
Maurs hold the dominant positions in government, state 
enterprises, business, and religious institutions, and many 
non-Hassaniya-speaking black Mauritanians have long contended 
that this situation is a result of ethnic and linguistic 
discrimination. 

It has been a longstanding policy of the Government to promote 
Arabization and the use of Arabic as the country's principal 
language. Although French is still widely used as well, 
particularly among black Mauritanians, the new Constitution 
enacted in July 1991 eliminates French as an official 
language. Non-Hassaniya-speaking black Mauritanians also 
charge that the Government's 1983 land reform law is 
increasingly being misused to allow white and black Maurs to 
encroach on fertile land in the Senegal river valley that had 
been traditionally their preserve. Mauritania's dry and 
inhospitable climate has contributed to the hostile feelings 
between livestock raising Maurs and farming blacks. A 
decade-long drought has increased the traditional flow of 
nomads from the north into the more fertile southern regions, 
further exacerbating tensions. 

The longstanding ethnic divisions within Mauritanian society 
came dramatically to the fore in April 1989. The events of 
that period resulted more from an eruption of underlying ethnic 
hostilities than from officially sanctioned government policy. 
However, the extrajudicial expulsions that followed were 
clearly based on ethnicity. Only non-Hassaniya-speaking blacks 
were deprived of citizenship and deported. The resulting 
cross-border raids were thus carried out by non-Hassaniya- 
speakers, and security force reprisals were therefore directed 
solely against these groups. 

Theoretically, women have legal rights to property, divorce, 
and child custody. In practice, both marriage and divorce can 
take place without the woman's consent. Although there is a 



248 



MAURITANIA 

somewhat lower percentage of women than men educated at the 
university level, there are no legal restrictions on education 
for women. Women do not wear the veil, may operate 
automobiles, and may own and manage their own businesses. The 
Government is encouraging the entry of women into the 
professions, government, and business, and a number of women 
have moved into senior or midlevel government positions in 
recent years. In late 1991, there were two women at the 
highest levels of government: the Assistant Director of the 
President's Cabinet and an Advisor to the President. However, 
many Mauritanian women feel that these positions are more 
symbolic than substantive. 

The Government has been instrumental in opening up new 
employment opportunities for women in areas traditionally 
reserved for men, such as hospital work. According to 
Mauritanian law, men and women must receive equal pay for equal 
work; Mauritania's two largest employers, the Civil Service and 
the State Mining Company, SNIM, respect this law. 

Violence against women occurs, but no data exist to indicate 
its extent. The police and judiciary have been known to 
intervene in domestic disputes, but only recently has the 
Mauritanian media begun to investigate this. The Government 
has taken no position nor issued any statements on violence 
against women or on female genital mutilation (circumcision), a 
tradition in some areas of southern Mauritania where the most 
dangerous form, inf ibulation, is practiced. This custom is 
seldom, if ever, practiced in the north, and some evidence 
indicates that the incidence of female circumcision is 
diminishing in the modern, urbanized sector. 

Section 6 Worker Rights 

a. The Right of Association 

Workers are free to establish unions at the local and national 
level. There are currently 36 trade unions in the country. 
All, however, must be affiliates of the Union of Mauritanian 
Workers (UTM) , by law the country's only central labor body. 
The UTM's traditional independence from the Government was 
broken in 1991 when its leadership, responding to members' 
anger at the continued detention of military prisoners, called 
an unsuccessful general strike. Through a combination of 
strong-arm tactics, co-optation, and successful inside 
maneuvering, the Government undercut the union leadership, 
discredited the strikers, and installed a tame replacement UTM 
leadership. UTM members arrested after street fighting in June 
were tortured (see Section I.e.). 

Although Mauritanian law grants workers the right to strike, in 
practice strikes rarely occur, due to government pressure. 
Under Mauritanian law, tripartite arbitration committees, 
composed of union, business, and government representatives, 
may impose binding arbitration that automatically terminates 
any strike. 

b. The Right to Organize and Bargain Collectively 

Unions are free to organize workers without government or 
employer interference. According to the UTM, close to 90 
percent of industrial and commercial workers in Mauritania are 
members of unions. The laws providing workers' protection 
against antiunion discrimination are regularly enforced. True 
collective bargaining is limited by the Government ' s leadership 



249 



MAURITANIA 

role. Wages and other benefits are decided informally between 
individual unions, employers, the Government, and the UTM. In 
addition, employees or employers may bring labor disputes to 
three-person labor courts that are overseen jointly by the 
Ministries of Justice and Labor. Labor leaders regard these 
courts as unbiased and effective. There are no export 
processing zones in Mauritania. 

c. Prohibition of Forced or Compulsory Labor 

Slavery was officially abolished in Mauritania several times, 
most recently in 1980, but many persons whose ancestors were 
slaves still occupied positions of servitude in 1991. This was 
due in part to the economic hardships they would have 
encountered if they had left. However, in some areas persons 
were sometimes held against their will and forced to perform 
unpaid labor. Human rights organizations claim that slavery 
persists and charge that the Government has taken no 
significant practical steps to eradicate the practice. Several 
reports indicated that some instances of forced labor involved 
young children. 

d. Minimxim Age for Employment of Children 

Education is not compulsory in Mauritania, but Mauritanian law 
specifies that no child may be employed before the age of 13 in 
the agricultural sector without the permission of the Minister 
of Labor, nor before the age of 15 in the nonagricultural 
sector. The law provides that employed children aged 14 to 16 
should receive 7 percent of the minimum wage, and those from 
17 to 18 should receive 90 percent of the minimum wage. There 
is limited enforcement of child labor laws by the few 
inspectors in the Ministry of Labor. In practice, much younger 
children in the countryside pursue herding, cultivation, and 
other significant labor in support of their families' 
traditional activities. In accordance with longstanding 
tradition, some children serve apprenticeships in small 
industries, but overall, child labor in the nonagricultural 
sector does not appear to be widespread. 

e. Acceptable Conditions of Work 

The guaranteed minimum wage for adults was raised at the end of 
1991 but even so it barely enabled the average family to meet 
its minimum needs. The standard, legal nonagricultural 
workweek in Mauritania cannot exceed either 40 hours or 6 days 
without overtime compensation, which is paid at rates that are 
graduated according to the number of supplemental hours 
worked. Reliable data on actual wage levels is scarce. 
Enforcement of the labor laws is the responsibility of the 
Labor Inspectorate of the Ministry of Labor but in practice is 
limited by the shortage of qualified personnel. 

In April 1990, the Senegalese Confederation of Workers (CNTS) 
submitted a representation to the International Labor 
Organization (ILO) , charging the Government of Mauritania with 
violating several ILO conventions. The CNTS detailed the 
Government's "deportation and banishment of its own black 
African citizens" and specified numerous sectors in which 
significant numbers of non-Hassaniya-speaking blacks were 
dismissed without cause and, in many cases, deprived of basic 
rights. 



250 



MAURITIUS 



Mauritius, a parliamentary democracy and a member of the 
Commonwealth of Nations, is governed by an elected prime 
minister, a council of ministers, and a legislative assembly. 
In December the Legislative Assembly voted to change Mauritius' 
status within the Commonwealth, effective March 12, 1992. 
Under the amended Constitution, a Mauritian-born president 
nominated by the Prime Minister and confirmed by the Assembly 
will replace the British Monarch as Head of State. Like the 
Governor General under the previous system, the President's 
powers will be largely ceremonial. Fair and orderly elections, 
supervised by an independent commission, at national and local 
levels take place at regular intervals. There are four major 
political parties, which reflect a range of ideological views, 
and several smaller parties. Prime Minister Anerood Jugnauth's 
current coalition received a broad mandate in general elections 
in September . 

A paramilitary Special Mobile Force of some 1,200 men and a 
240-man Special Support Unit are responsible for internal 
security. These forces, under the command of the Commissioner 
of Police, are largely apolitical, well trained, and backed by 
a general duty police force of approximately 4,000 men. 

The economy is based on export-oriented manufacturing (mainly 
textiles), sugar, and tourism. The rapid economic growth of 
the mid-1980 's has slowed as a result of labor shortages. The 
Government, with the help of international donors, is 
attempting to diversify the industrial base to favor high 
technology, capital-intensive production. 

The Government generally continued to demonstrate respect for 
basic human rights. Political and civil rights, including the 
freedoms of speech and press, are protected under the 
Constitution and respected in practice. The Prime Minister 
established the Garrioch Committee in 1990 to conduct an 
independent review of several controversial laws generally 
considered to be repressive, specifically the Public Order Act 
(POA), which permits detention without charge or trial, the 
Industrial Relations Act (IRA), which limits the right to 
strike, and the Newspapers and Periodicals Act, which makes it 
illegal to publish false news. By the end of 1991, the 
Committee had completed its report to the Government on all 
legislation but the IRA. 

RESPECT FOR HUMAN RIGHTS 

Section 1 Respect for the Integrity of the Person, Including 
Freedom from: 

a. Political and Other Extrajudicial Killing 

There were no reports of government-inspired political or 
extrajudicial killings. 

b. Disappearance 

There were no reports of the disappearance of persons for 
political causes. 

c. Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading 
Treatment or Punishment 

Torture and inhuman punishment are prohibited by law, and there 
were no reports of degrading treatment or punishment. There 



251 



MAURITIUS 

have been several allegations in the media of police 
mistreatment of suspects, but follow-up investigations failed 
to confirm any abuses. 

d. Arbitrary Arrest, Detention, or Exile 

Under the Constitution, detained persons have the right to a 
judicial determination of the legality of their detention. 
Although the time limit for making this aetermination is not 
specified in law, in practice it is usually made within 24 
hours. Bail is commonly granted. The Public Gathering Act 
(PGA), which replaced the Public Order Act based on 
recommendations from the Garrioch Committee, no longer allows 
for indefinite detention without charge or trial. 

Exile is legally prohibited and not practiced. 

e. Denial of Fair Public Trial 

Mauritius' judicial system, modeled on that of Great Britain, 
consists of the Supreme Court, which has appellate powers, and 
a series of lower courts. Final appeal may be made to the 
Queen's Privy Council in the United Kingdom and is routinely 
made in the cases of death sentences. About 50 percent of 
Supreme Court rulings referred to the Privy Council are 
reversed. There are no political or military courts. 

The Governor General (as of 1992 the President), in 
consultation with the Prime Minister, nominates the Chief 
Justice and, in consultation with the Chief Justice, nominates 
the senior puisne (associate) judges. The Governor General 
nominates other judges on the advice of the Judicial and Legal 
Service Commissions. The legal system has consistently 
provided fair, public trials for those charged with crimes. 
Defendants have the right to private or court-appointed 
counsel. The judiciary is also charged under the Constitution 
with ensuring that new laws are consistent with democratic 
practice. 

Recently several prominent legal specialists have been critical 
of government interference in the judicial process and have 
warned against undermining the independence of the judiciary. 
In particular, this criticism coincided with the Government's 
handling of the Boodhoo and Ballah cases. (In the 1989 arrests 
of Harish Boodhoo, the well-known leader of the Mauritian 
Socialist Party (PSM), and Vedi Ballah, the editor of the PSM 
newspaper. The Socialist, the authorities held them for 3 weeks 
and 1 week respectively before bail was granted. They were 
charged under the now defunct Public Order Act with giving out 
false information that could cause a public disturbance.) 

There were no political prisoners in Mauritius at year's end. 

f . Arbitrary Interference with Privacy, Family, Home, or 
Correspondence 

The sanctity of the home is guaranteed by law and generally 
respected in practice. The search of personal property or 
premises is allowed only under clearly specified conditions by 
court order or by police decision if an illegal act has been 
committed. There have been credible reports that the 
Government's intelligence apparatus occasionally opens mail and 
carries out surveillance of local opposition leaders and other 
major figures. 



252 



MAURITIUS 
Section 2 Respect for Civil Liberties, Including: 

a. Freedom of Speech and Press 

Freedom of speech and press is protected by the Constitution 
and local tradition and is generally respected in practice. 
Debate in the Legislative Assembly is lively and open. Sixteen 
privately owned daily, weekly, and monthly newspapers present 
varying political viewpoints and freely express partisan 
views. However, newspapers are subject to the legal 
constraints of libel laws, vrtiich, under the 1984 Newspaper and 
Periodicals (Amendment) Act, can be used by the Government to 
limit press criticism, as was done in the Boodhoo and Ballah 
cases . 

The Government owns the two television and three radio stations 
(one strictly educational), which broadcast in 12 languages and 
dialects. Television and radio tend to reflect government 
editorial and programming policies. Opposition politicians 
have accused the Broadcasting Corporation of political bias in 
its local news coverage. The political opposition successfully 
challenged the television stations to permit its candidates 
programming time on the eve of general elections in September. 

b. Freedom of Peaceful Assembly and Association 

Mauritians enjoy the right to form associations, including 
political parties, trade unions, and religious organizations, 
although in practice all such organizations need government 
approval in order to operate officially. Mauritius has a 
multitude of such private organizations. Political, cultural, 
and religious assemblies are commonplace. 

Although police permission is required for holding 
demonstrations and mass meetings, such permission is rarely 
refused. Registered political parties and alliances held 
numerous public rallies in the leadup to general and municipal 
elections in September and October. All rallies were peaceful. 

c. Freedom of Religion 

There is no state religion in Mauritius. Hindus are a 
majority, but Christians, Muslims, Buddhists, and others openly 
practice, teach, and proselytize their religions without 
prejudice. All religious institutions receive state subsidies 
in proportion to their memberships. There is no 
state-sponsored discrimination against any ethnic or religious 
community. The Government facilitates the travel of Mauritians 
who make the hajj. Foreign missionaries are not allowed to 
enter the country without a prior request from a local 
religious organization. 

d. Freedom of Movement Within the Country, Foreign 
Travel, Emigration, and Repatriation 

There are no restrictions on freedom of movement within the 
country. Foreign travel and emigration are also unrestricted. 
However, there is no blanket guarantee of repatriation, and 
there are no general criteria for processing repatriation 
applications. Applications from Mauritians abroad who lost 
their citizenship after acquiring a second nationality 
(estimated to be several thousand) are handled on a 
case-by-case and sometimes arbitrary basis. This remains an 
issue of political debate as more Mauritians abroad seek to 
reclaim their Mauritian citizenship. 



253 



MAURITIUS 

Section 3 Respect for Political Rights: The Right of Citizens 
to Change Their Government 

Citizens have the right and ability to change their government 
through democratic means. Mauritius is governed by a freely 
elected, unicameral Legislative Assembly, with executive 
direction coming from a Council of Ministers, currently headed 
by Prime Minister Sir Anerood Jugnauth, whose Alliance 
coalitions won elections in 1983, 1987, and 1991. The Governor 
General has the right to desigiiate the person charged with 
forming a new government following parliamentary elections or 
in a parliamentary crisis. Parliamentary, municipal, and 
village council elections are held at regular intervals. All 
citizens 18 years of age and over have the right to vote and 
run for office. 

In the Legislative Assembly, up to 8 members are appointed 
through a complex "best loser" system designed in part to 
ensure that all ethnic groups are adequately represented. The 
governing (three-party) Alliance coalition now controls 59 of 
the 66 seats. The four major political parties and the smaller 
parties often match the ethnicity or religion of their 
candidates to the composition of particular electoral 
constituencies. 

Section 4 Governmental Attitude Regarding International and 

Nongovernmental Investigation of Alleged violations 
of Human Rights 

Several local human rights groups monitor developments without 
governmental restriction. There have been no known requests by 
international organizations to investigate human rights 
violations in Mauritius. 

Section 5 Discrimination Based on Race, Sex, Religion, 
Language, or Social Status 

Although Mauritius has a Hindu majority, the covintry's active 
press and strongly egalitarian traditions mitigate against 
discrimination in all forms. However, tensions based on 
ethnicity and caste do exist. 

Traditionally, women in Mauritius have occupied a subordinate 
role in society, but the Government has tried to promote 
equality by eliminating various legal restrictions, e.g., in 
laws dealing with emigration and inheritance and, in 1990, 
removing a legal bar to women serving on juries. Also, in 1989 
the Government appointed "equal employment opportunity 
officers" in the major ministries to oversee women's activities 
and to ensure the promotion of women's interests. Nonetheless, 
women still cannot transmit citizenship to their foreign-born 
children, and foreign husbands of Mauritian women cannot . 
automatically obtain residency and work permits (as can foreign 
wives of Mauritian men) . Women still face de facto 
discrimination, including in education. For example, women are 
discouraged from studying traditionally male-dominated fields 
such as engineering, medicine, and law. 

According to the Ministry of Women's Rights and Family Welfare, 
physicians, attorneys, and religious and charitable 
organizations, violence against women is prevalent, although no 
reliable statistics have been gathered. There are no special 
provisions in Mauritian law concerning family violence. Police 



254 



MAURITIUS 

authorities are generally reluctant to became involved in cases 
of wife beating. In June 1989, the Ministry of Women's Rights 
and Family Welfare established a family counseling service, 
managed by the National Council of Women, one of whose 
principal tasks is to provide counseling and legal advice in 
cases of spousal abuse. Also, a Mauritian nongovernmental 
organization, S.O.S. Women, has recently been launched. (See 
Section 6.e. concerning wage inequalities.) 

Section 6 Worker Rights 

a. The Right of Association 

Mauritius has an active trade union movement. Almost 300 
unions represent about 110,000 workers, more than one-fourth of 
the work force. Of the 300 unions, 110 have less than 50 
members. Unions are free to organize workers in all sectors, 
including the export processing zone (EPZ) which employs about 
90,000 workers, but in practice there are a variety of 
constraints under the 1973 Industrial Relations Act (IRA), such 
as the need to get government approval to register new unions. 
Unions have also been deregistered in the EPZ in recent years. 
Less than 10 percent of EPZ workers are believed to be 
unionized. Unions can press wage demands, establish ties to 
domestic political parties and international organizations, and 
address political issues. Three of the five trade union 
activists who ran in the August 30, 1987, general elections 
were elected to the Legislative Assembly on the government 
slate. 

In theory, unions have the right to strike. However, in labor 
disputes, the IRA requires a prestrike 21-day cooling-off 
period followed by binding arbitration, which has the effect of 
making most strikes illegal. Participation in a strike not 
approved by a court is sufficient grounds for dismissal. 
Refusal to follow IRA procedures during a mid-1988 textile 
plant strike led to the imprisonment of three union leaders for 
several days and in 1990 to the firing of 14 strike leaders of 
the Central Electricity Board Staff Association and the calling 
in of the Special Mobile Force to operate the power stations. 
There were no significant strikes in 1991. 

b. The Right to Organize and Bargain Collectively 

While the right of association is guaranteed by law, the 
collective bargaining process has been distorted in Mauritius. 
The IRA addresses collective bargaining and allows it in 
theory, but in practice its provisions for establishing wages 
bear little resemblance to the traditional collective 
bargaining process, and the Government's restraints on that 
process render it ineffective. 

The Government has established a National Remuneration Board 
(NRB) whose chairman is appointed by the Minister of Labor. 
The NRB establishes minimum wages for 26 categories of private 
sector workers (sugar, tea, transport, etc.) which apply 
equally to workers in the EPZ. Although originally established 
to set minimum wages for nonunion workers, the NRB has 
broadened its powers and now issues remuneration orders that 
establish minimum wages, bonuses, housing and transportation 
allowances, and other benefits for almost all private sector 
workers. About 85 percent of all private sector workers 
(including unionized workers) are covered by NRB orders. 
Employers and unions are free to negotiate wages and benefits 
above the minimums established by the NRB, but this is rare. 



255 



MAURITIUS 

NRB remuneration orders set minimum wages by sector but also 
establish a wage structure based on length of service and job 
classification. NRB orders thus set wages for skilled and 
experienced workers whose earnings are well above the minimum 
wage. Wages and benefits for civil servants are established by 
the Pay Research Bureau (PRB) which prepares a wage scale for 
the civil service each year on the basis of the annual 
Chesworth Report recommendations. 

The Government has also established a tripartite committee, 
including employer and trade union representatives, which meets 
once a year and is chaired by the Minister of Finance. It can 
recommend only wage increases based on inflation. Its 
recommendations are not always unanimous, however, and the 
Government makes the final decision based on all the 
information it receives. 

The International Labor Organization (ILO) Committee of Experts 

(COE) noted again in 1991 that the IRA does not give workers' 
organizations sufficient protection against acts of 

interference as provided for by ILO Convention 98 on the right 

to organize and collective bargaining. The Garrioch Committee 
continued to review throughout 1991 the IRA, but it had not 
reported its recommendations by the end of 1991. 

c. Prohibition of Forced or Compulsory Labor 

Forced or compulsory labor is prohibited by law and not 
practiced. However, under the IRA, the Minister of Labor can 
refer industrial disputes to compulsory arbitration, 
enforceable by penalties involving compulsory labor 
provisions. The COE has criticized this as being in conflict 
with ILO Convention 105 on forced labor. 

d. Minimum Age for Employment of Children 

The minimum work age for employment of children is 15. The 
Ministry of Labor is responsible for enforcing child labor 
laws. In practice, there is minimal enforcement of these 
laws. While there are cases of children below 15 working 
illegally in the EPZ, the large, established EPZ factories do 
not hire children under 15. In fact, it is unusual to see 
employees much younger than 18. Education is compulsory and 
strictly enforced through age 12. 

e. Acceptable Conditions of Work 

Minim\im wages are legislated, differing along employment sector 
and gender lines. Women are paid less in the agricultural 
sector on the assumption that their productivity is lower in 
this physical, labor-intensive work. In the EPZ, the minimum 
wage is equal for men and women. Conditions of employment, 
including wage and leave conditions, are generally sufficient 
to afford an acceptable standard of living for workers in the 
agricultural, service, and manufacturing sectors. However, the 
current statutory rate paid for unskilled labor is barely 
sufficient to provide a worker with a minimum standard of 
living, and much depends on the additional benefits offered. 
The Government mandates minimum wage increases each year based 
on inflation. 

A maximum workweek of 45 hours is allowed, but excessive 
overtime continues to be a problem in the EPZ. Following 
complaints that EPZ employers imposed long hours of overtime on 



256 



MAURITIUS 

employees — about 10 to 20 hours per week, making for a 55- to 
65-hour workweek — the Government established a committee to 
address these issues, but by the end of 1991 it still had 
issued no report. In addition, some EPZ employers still 
require women to work at night. 

The Government sets health and safety standards, and conditions 
are inspected by Ministry of Labor officials. Enforcement is 
minimal and ineffective due to the small number of inspectors. 



257 



MOZAMBIQUE 

In 1991 Mozambique continued to be governed by President 
Joaquim Chissano and menibers of the National Front for the 
Liberation of Mozambique (FRELIMO) . The secret-ballot, 
multiparty elections called for in the 1990 Constitution were 
postponed, pending the outcome of peace talks in Rome between 
the Government and the insurgent Mozambican National Resistance 
(RENAMO). The Government passed legislation in 1991 governing 
the new, multiparty system and, by year's end, 14 new political 
parties had formed and held public meetings. Only FRELIMO, 
though, had officially registered. At its Sixth Party 
Congress, FRELIMO formally adopted social democracy as the 
party's philosophy, replacing Marxism-Leninism, and held its 
first secret-ballot elections for party leadership. 

Since the late 1970 's, the Government has been under attack 
from RENAMO, which is estimated to have as many as 20,000 men 
under arms. Peace talks between the Government and RENAMO 
began in mid-1990 under Italian mediation and were still under 
way at year's end. Sporadic fighting, however, continued 
between the Armed Forces of Mozambic[ue (FAM) and RENAMO in all 
of the country's 10 provinces, including attacks on the 
outskirts of the capital, Maputo. 

The security forces include the 60,000 FAM soldiers, a people's 
militia, and, until mid-1991 when it was abolished, the 
Mozambican National Security Service (SNASP), which in the past 
had been frequently charged with human rights abuses. In 
September the President signed legislation creating a new 
security force, the State Information and Security Service 
(SISE). Several top officials of the former SNASP were 
assigned to other government departments. Unlike its 
predecessor, the new organization does not have the power to 
arrest and detain suspects, and the Government's declared 
intent is to limit SISE to legitimate intelligence and security 
functions. At year's end, it was too early to evaluate SISE's 
human rights record. 

Approximately 80 percent of the population is employed in 
agriculture, mostly on a small-scale, subsistence level. Major 
sources of foreign exchange are seafood and agricultural 
products, especially cashews, tea, sugar, and cotton. The 
Government continued its efforts to move to a market-oriented 
economy, but growth was extremely poor for the second year in a 
row. Continued attacks by RENAMO on economic targets severely 
hampered production and internal trade; approximately 5 million 
people — a third of the nation's population — are thought to be 
dependent on international food aid. 

Human rights abuses continued in 1991, with the most blatant 
arising out of the continuing civil conflict. Widespread 
reports detailed massacres directed against civilians, 
kidnapings, torture, and looting. RENAMO was responsible for 
the vast majority of these atrocities, but government forces 
also committed serious abuses. Other major human rights 
problems included harsh prison conditions; the use of 
arbitrary, incommunicado detention, especially by the SNASP; 
incidents of military indiscipline and harassment of civilians; 
forced recruitment; and citizens' inability to change their 
government . 

The new Constitution represented a major step toward 
safeguarding basic rights, but it also contains a number of 
qualifying clauses which subordinate the new freedoms to 
"national security" and "foreign policy interests." By the end 



258 



MOZAMBIQUE 

of 1991, it was unclear how the Government would implement key 
provisions of the Constitution and a series of new laws enacted 
in 1991 governing press, nationality, and labor. However, as 
political parties were allowed to form and meet without 
government intervention and labor disputes were being aired 
publicly, people were increasingly confident and willing to 
voice dissenting views, criticize government actions past and 
present, and openly challenge FRELIMO/government orthodoxy. 
The success of the new Constitution and a multiparty system 
will depend heavily on resolution of the conflict with RENAMO, 
which has long demanded the establishment of a multiparty 
system but denounced the Government's unilateral implementation 
of the Constitution and legislation on political parties. 

RESPECT FOR HUMAN RIGHTS 

Section 1 Respect for the Integrity of the Person, Including 
Freedom from 

a. Political and Other Extrajudicial Killing 

There were no known or suspected cases of the Government 
targeting persons for political killings in 1991. Both sides 
were responsible for the deaths of civilians in the course of 
the civil war, with the great majority of the killings 
attributed to RENAMO forces (see Section l.g.). 

b. Disappearance 

There were no reports of government-perpetrated 
disappearances. However, thousands are missing due to the 
conflict, often as a result of kidnapings in areas affected by 
the war. RENAMO, in particular, regularly holds civilians 
against their will, often employing them as porters or forcibly 
impressing them into their military forces. 

c. Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading 
Treatment of Punishment 

The new Constitution expressly prohibits torture. During the 
prosecution of the war, however, both government and RENAMO 
forces tortured prisoners and civilians. There were numerous 
reports that government troops and security personnel beat and 
extorted money from civilians. Several soldiers were convicted 
for such crimes in 1991 and sentenced to prison terms, fines, 
and expulsion from the armed services. RENAMO 's attacks on 
civilians continued unabated in 1991. According to many 
reports, RENAMO beat and mutilated people and forced family 
members to witness or participate in the torture of their 
relatives. Former RENAMO soldiers claimed that threats of 
beating, torture, and execution were used to keep coerced 
recruits from escaping. 

Prison conditions remained very poor. For example, the local 
press reported three persons in the Beira jail died in July as 
a result of diseases caused by contaminated food; further, the 
jail, which has a capacity for 70 inmates, was holding 216 at 
one point. Since 1988 the Government has allowed international 
human rights groups access to prisons where national security 
prisoners (mainly RENAMO soldiers and sympathizers) are held, 
both those already convicted and those awaiting trial. In past 
years, there were reliable reports of torture, including 
beatings, submersion in water, deprivation of food and sleep, 
and prolonged isolation. It is not known to what extent these 



259 



MOZAMBIQUE 

cJbuses occurred in 1991, but instances of torture by security 
police have reportedly declined sharply since 1988. 

d. Arbitrary Arrest, Detention, or Exile 

The law requires that most detainees be charged or released 
within 30 days. However, persons accused of the most serious 
crimes, i.e., security offenses or those requiring a sentence 
of more than 8 years, may be detained for up to 84 days without 
being formally charged or investigated. With court approval, 
such detainees may then be held for two additional periods of 
84 days while the police complete their investigation. While 
detained persons have the constitutional right to counsel and 
to contact relatives or friends, this right is often not 
respected. In some cases, detainees may be released from 
prison while the investigation proceeds, but the bail system in 
Mozambicjue remains ill-defined. The law provides that if the 
prescribed period for investigation has been completed and no 
charges have been brought, the detainee must be released. In 
practice, however, this law is often ignored, in part because 
of the severe lack of administrative personnel and trained 
lawyers to monitor the judicial system, and in part because 
citizens are often unaware of their rights, particularly those 
granted under the new Constitution, and do not demand them. As 
a result, there continued to be throughout 1991 a large backlog 
of prisoners awaiting trial, despite reported government 
efforts to speed up pretrial investigations. Detainees often 
spend many months, even years, in pretrial status. 

The SNASP, abolished in September, had broad powers to arrest 
persons accused of political and economic crimes against the 
State, such as espionage or sabotage. It often used these 
powers arbitrarily, mainly against anyone suspected of 
sympathizing with RENAMO, and held detainees indefinitely, 
often incommunicado. Its successor, the SISE, no longer has 
this power. In theory, security detainees now have the same 
legal rights as ordinary criminal detainees. 

The number of political detainees awaiting trial, as 
distinguished from those who had been convicted, was unknown at 
year's end. There were an estimated 700 security prisoners at 
the end of 1990; that figure was thought to be lower in 1991, 
though no concrete data were available. It is unknown how many 
of these were awaiting trial. Most of those being held are 
accused of sympathizing with, or committing crimes on behalf 
of, RENAMO. 

In June and July, 21 persons were arrested for allegedly 
attempting to overthrow the Government. Two of the suspects 
were released shortly after their arrest, and three more were 
released in September for lack of evidence. The Attorney 
General said the State would ensure a fair and legal trial. 

The new Constitution expressly prohibits the expulsion of any 
Mozambican citizen. 

e. Denial of Fair Public Trial 

Mozambique has two complementary justice systems: the 
civil/criminal, which includes customary courts, and the 
military justice system, both under the administration of the 
Ministry of Justice. At the apex of both systems is the 
Supreme Court. Military courts, including brigade courts and 
provincial military courts for specified military-related 
crimes, are administered jointly with the Ministry of Defense. 



260 



MOZAMBIQUE 

Crimes committed by senior military officials are handled 
directly by the Supreme Court. Appeals, including military 
cases, may be made to the Supreme Court, where two judges are 
designated to handle military matters. 

Since the establishment of the Supreme Court in 1988 and the 
abolition of the Revolutionary Military Tribunal, persons 
accused of crimes against the State are tried in common 
civilian courts under standard criminal judicial procedures. 
For example, persons arrested in July for allegedly attempting 
to overthrow the Government are being tried in civilian 
courts. Although all accused persons are in theory presumed 
innocent and have the right to legal counsel and the right of 
appeal, these rights are not always applied. A judge may order 
a trial closed because of national security interests or to 
protect the privacy of the plaintiff in cases concerning rape. 
Trials in the regular civil and criminal court system are 
generally public and fair, but the entire process suffers 
severely from the Government's inability to reduce a large 
backlog of cases. 

In addition to the regular courts at the provincial and 
district levels, there are customary courts at the local level 
which handle matters such as estate and divorce cases. The 
proceedings are usually conducted in public by a trained 
representative of the Ministry of Justice, assisted by two or 
four popularly elected lay judges instructed to exercise common 
sense and to apply locally accepted principles. 

The 1990 Constitution establishes an independent judiciary and 
provides for the selection of judges by other jurists, 
replacing the prior system of administratively appointed 
justices. Under the new Constitution, the President appoints 
seven members of the Supreme Court, including the Chief Justice 
and Assistant Chief Justice, from career jurists. An 
additional 9 to 18 "citizen judges" are elected by the National 
Assembly. The practical impact of these and projected changes 
on the independence of the judiciary remains to be tested. 

Several of the new political parties continued to maintain that 
the Government was still holding political prisoners as well as 
operating reeducation camps, although no new evidence emerged 
in 1991 to support those claims. The Government continued to 
deny the charges and said that all political prisoners have 
either been granted amnesty, pardoned, or were dead. 

f . Arbitrary Interference with Privacy, Family, Home, or 
Correspondence 

Despite provisions for privacy in the new Constitution, in 
areas of active insurgency homes are entered at will by 
security and police forces. Civilians living in these areas 
are often forced to move to government-protected villages. The 
population concentrated in the secure villages suffers from 
malnutrition, disease, and high mortality rates. 

It is widely assumed that surveillance devices are employed to 
monitor local and international telecommunications systems and 
that mail is periodically inspected, even though the new 
Constitution expressly prohibits such surveillance. 



261 



MOZAMBIQUE 

g. Use of Excessive Force and Violations of Humanitarian 
Law in Internal Conflicts 

Both government (FAM) and RENAMO forces were again responsible 
for violations of humanitarian law in 1991, although RENAMO 
abuses continued to be much more widespread and systematic. 
Attacks against civilians were reported frequently, and, given 
the remoteness of much of the countryside, many more attacks 
undoubtedly went unreported. Since it began in the late 
1970 's, the conflict is estimated to have cost approximately 
500,000 lives and left millions of Mozambicans homeless and 
living on the edge of starvation. 

There is no estimate of the number of killings in 1991 by 
government forces, but there have been credible reports, 
including allegations by refugees, of abuses by government 
forces. According to press and eyewitness reports, government 
soldiers regularly attacked residents of Matola-Rio, killing 
and torturing many persons and looting property. In another 
incident, security forces shot into a crowd of citizens during 
a protest in Sofala province over the payment of salaries, 
wounding three adults and killing a child. There were also 
numerous complaints of forced recruitment by government troops. 

Senior officials repeatedly urged the security and military 
forces to respect the population, and in some cases legal 
charges were brought against undisciplined soldiers. In one 
such case, a military court sentenced two officers to 12 and 15 
years in prison, respectively, for killing a civilian accused 
of being involved with RENAMO. In 1991, 66 police were brought 
before an internal commission of the police department for 
crimes ranging from attacks on citizens to theft. According to 
the Government, 46 of these police had been disciplined or 
expelled from the force. The others were still being 
investigated. 

Atrocities by RENAMO are well documented; the rebel group 
continued to execute or kidnap noncombatants after attacks on 
villages, often hacking or burning people to death and later 
displaying body parts, apparently to intimidate would-be 
resisters. For example, such atrocities were widely reported 
in national and international media after RENAMO overran the 
the town of Lalaua in Nampula province in August. There were 
numerous other such abuses during the year. RENAMO also 
continued to forcibly impress civilians, including children, 
and to attack relief convoys, health workers, and clinics. By 
year's end, allegations of armed attacks by both RENAMO and FAM 
on refugee camps in Malawi were a growing concern. 

Section 2 Respect for Civil Liberties, Including: 

a. Freedom of Speech and Press 

The new Constitution provides for freedom of expression and the 
press, but it also permits the Government to restrict these 
freedoms for various reasons, including national defense 
considerations. The new press law holds that, in cases of 
defamation against the President or ambassadors accredited to 
Mozambique, truth is not a sufficient defense. Criticism of 
these persons, however, is not prohibited. In practice, there 
was increased freedom of speech with the advent of several new 
political parties. Some political opposition leaders voiced 
harsh public criticism of the one-party political system, and 
there was more open discussion within FRELIMO at its party 
congress. 



262 



MOZAMBIQUE 

There is no formal prior press censorship in Mozambique. 
However, many journalists have stated that they are held to 
unwritten and sometimes vague guidelines by their media 
directors, who are, in turn, appointed by the Government. The 
journalists claim that this encouraged self-censorship. 

In general, press freedom improved in 1991. According to media 
sources, official interference was almost nonexistent by year's 
end. The media ran stories on corruption, official 
incompetence, and incidents of military and police abuse of the 
civilian population. Journalists stated publicly that they had 
received death threats from the military to stop stories on 
army press-ganging but were apparently not intimidated and 
continued to report the story. Editorials and commentaries 
rarely criticized FRELIMO and never directly criticized the 
President. However, the press reported, in full and without 
penalty, strong criticism of FRELIMO and the Government by the 
new political parties. 

All mass media, including radio and television, are owned by 
the Government, except for one privately owned newsmagazine. 
The National Organization of Mozambican Journalists declared 
its independence from FRELIMO in 1991. It lobbied vigorously 
for a less restrictive press environment and pressed the 
Government for a liberal interpretation of the new press law. 
This new law permits private media and allows private 
investment in state-owned media. Foreign journalists are 
welcome, and foreign radio broadcasts and television are 
received without interference. 

No formal restrictions on academic freedom exist, but in 
practice teachers are subject to the same self-censorship as 
the media. 

b. Freedom of Peaceful Assembly and Association 

The Constitution provides for freedom of assembly and 
association. Legislation enacted in 1991 set up guidelines for 
registering as a political party, as well as for holding public 
demonstrations (see Section 3). Opposition political groups 
met during the year and held congresses and press conferences 
with no government interference. 

While the requirements for holding public demonstrations are 
not onerous, the Government's overly strict application of the 
rules made it difficult for some groups to exercise this 
right. The Government halted or prohibited several public 
demonstrations on technical grounds. Some FRELIMO party 
officials have defended this approach, insisting that security 
concerns take precedence over freedom of assembly. 

c. Freedom of Religion 

Both the original and the new Constitutions mandate strict 
separation of church and state and provide for the freedom to 
"practice or not practice a religion." The Government does not 
require religious organizations or missionaries to register, 
and foreign missionaries are readily granted visas. The new 
Constitution gives religious institutions the right to own 
property and allows private entities, including presumably 
religious institutions, to operate schools. 

Relations between the Government and religious organizations, 
tense in the early years after independence, continued to 
improve in 1991. The Government agreed in principle to return 



263 



MOZAMBIQUE 

many properties expropriated from religious organizations in 
the post independence period, and some property was returned in 
1991. 

d. Freedom of Movement Within the Country, Foreign 
Travel, Emigration, and Repatriation 

The new Constitution provides for freedom to travel within the 
country and abroad and prohibits exile or revocation of 
Mozambican citizenship for political reasons. The Government 
no longer requires citizens to obtain permits from local 
authorities in order to travel throughout the country. 
Citizens in insecure areas are often forced to move to 
governnient-protected villages. 

Given the civil conflict, there are few refugees from other 
countries in Mozambique. At the end of 1991, only 358 refugees 
received assistance from the United Nations High Commissioner 
for Refugees (UNHCR) with the full cooperation of the 
Government. There were no reported cases in which refugees 
were forced to return to countries where they have a 
well-founded fear of persecution. 

There are an estimated 1.4 million internally displaced people, 
living mainly in displaced persons camps scattered throughout 
the country. In these camps, they receive emergency aid from 
the Government and from the international community. Over 1.5 
million Mozambicans have left their homes for refuge in 
neighboring countries. Over half have gone to Malawi, others 
to South Africa, Zimbabwe, Tanzania, Zambia, and Swaziland. 

The Government readily accepts and aids repatriates; in recent 
years, an estimated 234,000 have returned on their own 
initiative, or through UNHCR voluntary repatriation programs 
coordinated with neighboring governments. Outflow, however, 
still exceeds repatriations. 

Section 3 Respect for Political Rights: The Right of Citizens 
to Change Their Government 

Citizens did not have the ability to change their government in 
1991. Although the 1990 Constitution provides for multiparty 
elections, RENAMO and most of the new opposition parties 
indicated that they would, not participate in elections before a 
political settlement was reached to end the longstanding civil 
war. Consequently, the Government postponed national elections 
indefinitely pending the outcome of the Rome peace talks with 
RENAMO, at which issues related to the holding of future 
multiparty elections were also being discussed. An accord 
reached in Rome in November altered several aspects of the 
political parties law passed by the Government in 1991 but 
preserved the commitment to hold early elections. 

The post independence single-party constitution established a 
system that effectively allowed the President, the FRELIMO 
Politburo, and the Council of Ministers to control policymaking 
and implementation. The new Constitution officially ended the 
leading role of the FRELIMO party, although the 
FRELIMO-dominated Government will remain in office pending new 
elections. The new Constitution calls for a strong presidency, 
but it also strengthens the legislature by allowing a 
two-thirds majority to override what is essentially a 
presidential veto. It also provides for eventual 
constitutional review of legislation by the Supreme Court. 



264 



MOZAMBIQUE 

The Constitution provides for an unlimited number of political 
parties. Under the political parties law promulgated in 1991, 
a legally recognized political party must demonstrate that it 
has no racial, ethnic, or religious exclusiveness and must 
demonstrate support in all provinces. (The November accord on 
political parties law would eliminate this latter 
recjuirement . ) Fourteen different parties had formally 
announced their formation by the end of 1991; only FRELIMO, 
though, had officially registered. 

The success of the new Constitution and a multiparty system 
will depend heavily on RENAMO's intentions. While RENAMO has 
long demanded the establishment of a multiparty system in 
Mozambique, it denounced the Government's unilateral 
implementation of the new Constitution and legislation on 
political parties. 

Section 4 Governmental Attitude Regarding International and 

Nongovernmental Investigation of Alleged violations 
of Human Rights 

There are no local organizations that monitor human rights 
abuses, although there are no legal obstacles to the formation 
of such groups. The Government is receptive, however, to some 
international human rights monitoring groups. The 
International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) maintains 
offices in Maputo and Beira, but its relations with the 
Government suffered in 1991 following the discovery of military 
and police uniforms in an ICRC donation shipment. The 
Government accused the ICRC of providing uniforms to RENAMO, 
which the ICRC denied. By the end of the year, however, the 
matter had subsided, and relations were improving. 

Section 5 Discrimination Based on Race, Sex, Religion, 
Language, or Social Status 

The Constitution prohibits such discrimination, and there does 
not appear to be any systematic persecution on the basis of 
ethnicity or race. Nonetheless, the FRELIMO Government has 
tended to include at all levels a disproportionate number of 
southerners, mostly from the Shangana ethnic group. White, 
Asian, and mixed-race Mozambicans are also heavily represented 
relative to their numbers in the population. This is not the 
case, however, in the military where no whites and few 
mixed-race Mozambicans serve. Most observers, both Mozambican 
and foreign, believe that ethnic imbalance in governmental 
positions results from the greater educational opportunities 
available to southerners and nonblacks under the former 
colonial administration and not from deliberate government 
policies. During its Sixth Congress in August, FRELIMO 
broadened the regional and ethnic base of the party by creating 
slates of candidates for the Central Committee from all 
provinces . 

Racial issues figured in political debates in 1991. During the 
discussion over the new nationality law, several National 
Assembly members argued that Mozambican citizenship should be 
limited to persons of black Mozambican origin, excluding 
whites, Indians, and mixed races; the final legislation did 
not, however, adopt that definition. Some of the new political 
parties also played on racial themes as they worked to define 
themselves. During its party congress, the Liberal Party of 
Mozambique (PALMO) attacked the role of whites and mixed races 
in the Government and the economy, though it publicly retreated 
from these statements later. 



265 



MOZAMBIQUE 

The leadership of the RENAMO insurgents is predominantly from 
the Shona-speaking ethnic groups who live near the Zimbabwean 
border. There is no indication that the conflict between the 
Government and RENAMO is primarily motivated by ethnicity, 
although ethnic and regional factors may play some role, and 
tribal factors may explain some of the violence. Historical 
accident appears to be responsible for the ethnic composition 
of the RENAMO leadership; the Shona was the group culturally 
and geographically most accessible to the Rhodesian 
intelligence organization, which established the forerunner to 
RSIAMO in the late 1970 's. Since then RENAMO has recruited 
from all ethnic groups and has not emphasized ethnic issues in 
its corranuniques or in its negotiating positions. 

The new Constitution forbids discrimination on the basis of sex 
and mandates eqfual rights and responsibilities for women. 
Family law requires that women have equal property rights and 
rights over the children in any marriage. In practice, women 
are under represented in the professions and in educational 
institutions at all levels. Over 80 percent of Mozambican 
women are peasant farmers, and most have had little education 
or access to good health care. Mozambique has one of the 
highest maternal mortality rates in the world. The 
Organization of Mozambican Women (OMM) has made a long-term 
project of studying the traditional practices of the various 
ethnic groups and challenging, through grassroots educational 
progreims, those practices believed detrimental to women. 
FRELIMO made a concerted effort to increase the representation 
of women in the party, electing in 1991 a Central Committee 
with a 35-percent female membership. 

According to medical and other sources, violence against women, 
especially wife beating, is fairly widespread in Mozambique, 
especially in rural areas. The police do not normally 
intervene in domestic disputes, and cases are rarely brought 
before the courts. The Government has not addressed the issue 
specifically, and its influence is weak, especially in many 
rural areas affected by the war. The OMM is campaigning to 
change pviblic attitudes on violence against women and other 
practices, such as female circumcision and bride-price 
payments, which continue in some rural areas. Female 
circumcision is found most frequently in coastal areas, 
particularly among Muslim groups. 

Section 6 Worker Rights 

a. The Right of Association 

The 1990 Constitution specifies that all workers are free to 
join or not join a trade union. A new labor law passed in 
December further protects workers' rights to organize and to 
engage in union activity at their place of employment. 
However, at the end of 1991, all trade unions were still 
incorporated into a central labor union confederation, the 
Organization of Mozambican Workers (OTM), which was loosely • 
affiliated with the FRELIMO party until late 1990, when it 
declared itself independent. In late 1991, the Assembly 
approved legislation clarifying the right of labor groups to 
form independent trade unions. By the end of 1991, no other 
independent unions had yet been formed. 

For the first time, the new Constitution explicitly provides 
for the right to strike, though it restricts this right for 
government employees, police, military personnel, and employees 
of other essential services. Following the wave of wildcat 



266 



MOZAMBIQUE 

Strikes in 1990, the Government introduced a set of provisional 
guidelines which have the effect of delaying strikes but which 
nevertheless conferred de facto recognition on ad hoc labor 
committees to act as independent negotiating units in place of 
OTM. These guidelines require prior notice of strike activity, 
exhaustion of other alternatives, presentation of a list of 
demands, and appointment of a negotiating committee. According 
to government reports, strikers in several subsequent walkouts 
adhered to the guidelines. However, in 1991 there was much 
confusion regarding the Government's interpretation of the 
provisional guidelines, the new labor law, and the right to 
strike. 

During 1991 wildcat strikes continued in several sectors, 
though with less frequency than in 1990. Strikers continued to 
rely on ad hoc committees to press their demands rather than on 
the OTM leadership with its close ties to the Government and 
FRELIMO. While the new OTM leadership hoped to convince labor 
of its new independent role, at the end of 1991 many OTM 
leaders continued to hold prominent positions in FRELIMO. 
Strikers in several industries were able to win their demands 
from management, though a strike among air traffic controllers 
dragged on throughout the year, with the Government taking an 
ambivalent position. 

The Constitution and labor legislation guarantee unions the 
right to join and participate in international bodies. The OTM 
is not affiliated with any non-African international trade 
union organization; it is a member of the Organization of 
African Trade Union Unity and the Southern African Trade Union 
Coordinating Council. 

b. The Right to Organize and Bargain Collectively 

The new labor law protects workers' rights to organize and to 
engage in collective bargaining. It expressly prohibits 
discrimination against organized labor. In late 1991, the 
Government decreed that it would no longer set all salary 
levels. Negotiating wage increases was left in the hands of 
the existing unions. Though some unions have begun the process 
of negotiating new wage levels, it is too early to tell how 
successful they will be or whether they will be able to gain 
the confidence of workers. During most of 1991, workers chose 
to bargain with employers through legally recognized ad hoc 
committees, with mixed results. The law requires Government 
arbitration if labor and management fail to reach agreement. 

There are currently no export processing zones in Mozambique. 

c. Prohibition of Forced or Compulsory Labor 

Forced or compulsory labor is prohibited by law, and there have 
been no reports of such labor practices by the Government. 
RENAMO reportedly forces kidnaped civilians to perform various 
support functions, including porter ing arms and supplies and 
growing food for combatants. There were also reports of forced 
conscription by the FAM. 

d. Minimum Age for Employment of Children 

Child labor is regulated by the Ministry of Labor. In the wage 
economy the minimum working age is 16. Because of high adult 
unemployment, there are few children in regular wage 
positions. However, children commonly work on family farms or 
in the urban informal sector, where they perform such tasks as 



267 



MOZAMBIQUE 

watching cars or collecting scrap metal. In addition, many 
children are kidnaped by RENAMO and forced to serve as soldiers 
or laborers for the rebels. 

e. Acceptable Conditions of Work 

The Ministry of Labor enforces minimum wage rates in the 
private sector. Public sector rates are enforced by the 
Ministry of Finance. Violations of minimum wage rates are 
usually investigated only after workers register a complaint. 
It is customary for workers to receive benefits such as 
transportation and food. The minimum wage is not adequate to 
sustain an average urban worker's family. Workers must turn to 
second jobs, if available, as well as work garden plots to 
survive. An estimated 80 percent of the work force is engaged 
in subsistence agriculture, which is not covered by minimum 
wage legislation. The standard legal workweek is 44 hours. 

In the small, modern sector, the Government has enacted health 
and environmental laws to protect workers. On occasion, the 
Government has closed firms for noncompliance with these laws, 
but enforcement by the Ministry of Labor is irregular, 
particularly under current economic conditions. 



268 



NAMIBIA 



Namibia achieved its independence under United Nations 
supervision on March 21, 1990, following 74 years of South 
African rule. The new nation is a functioning multiparty, 
multiracial democracy, whose Constitution contains an 
entrenched bill of rights, providing for freedom of speech, 
press, assembly, association, and religion. The Government is 
headed by Sam Nujoma, leader of the South West Africa People's 
Organization (SWAPO), which won Namibia's first free election 
in November 1989. The Democratic Turnhalle Alliance (DTA), 
SWAPO 's major opposition, and five small parties are also 
represented in the National Assembly. 

The main security force is the Namibian Defense Force (NDF) , 
comprised of former troops of the People's Liberation Army of 
Namibia (PLAN — SWAPO' s military wing) and of the South West 
African Territorial Force (SWATF) — forces that battled each 
other in the years prior to independence. The NDF and a small 
national police force, responsible for maintaining internal 
security, receive professional training from the United Kingdom 
and other countries, including the United States. Key officers 
received human rights-related instruction from the 
International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) . Nonetheless, 
security force members were responsible for a number of human 
rights abuses during the year. 

The Namibian economy has two major components — a modern market 
sector that produces most of its wealth and a traditional 
subsistence agricultural sector (mainly in the north) that 
supports most of its labor force. The mainstays of the market 
sector are mining, ranching, and fishing, still mostly 
controlled by white Namibian businessmen. Throughout 1991 the 
Government stressed the leading role of the private sector and 
encouraged new investment by indigenous and foreign 
entrepreneurs on the basis of a new investment code adopted in 
December 1990. 

Namibia continued to enjoy a wide range of civil and political 
liberties in 1991 with much public discussion of citizens' 
rights and obligations. Controversy continued, however, about 
accounting for missing detainees formerly held by SWAPO in 
Angola and Zambia and by South African authorities in Namibia 
and, to a lesser extent, about refugee issues. In June the 
Government requested ICRC assistance in investigating the 
identities and circumstances under which Namibians died or 
disappeared during the liberation struggle. The problems of 
racial discrimination and disparities, especially in education, 
health, and working conditions, and of discrimination and 
violence against women continued in 1991. There were 
continuing credible reports of NDF personnel torturing or 
abusing civilians despite strong condemnation by officials. 
Approximately 30 persons were convicted and dismissed from 
service for offenses against civilians, including such matters 
as theft, assault, and rape. 

RESPECT FOR HUMAN RIGHTS 

Section 1 Respect for the Integrity of the Person, Including 
Freedom from: 

a. Political and Other Extrajudicial Killing 

There were no reports of political or other extrajudicial 
killings during 1991. Several charges of politically motivated 
killings remained unresolved from previous years, including 



269 



NAMIBIA 

that of Anton Lubowski, a senior SWAPO official who was shot 
outside his home in Windhoek by an unknown gunman in September 
1989. 

In October the Supreme Court dismissed the appeal of a white 
man, Hendrik van Wyk, who was convicted for the unprovoked 
assault and murder of a black man, Johannes Haufiku, and 
sentenced to 12 years in prison. The Chief Justice said that 
the Court would impose heavy sentences of imprisonment as a 
deterrent in cases of violence motivated by racism. A black 
former member of PLAN, convicted of murdering a white farmer 
and gravely wounding his wife, received life imprisonment. 

b. Disappearance 

There were no reports of disappearances occurring during 1991. 
Most, if not all, earlier disappearance cases involved either 
persons detained by SWAPO in Angola or those arrested and 
unaccounted for by the former South African authorities prior 
to independence. The number of SWAPO detainees still not 
accounted for has been estimated to range from the 256 listed 
in 1989 by the Special Ad Hoc Committee of the U.N. Transition 
Assistance Group to the 1,400 noted by the Namibian National 
Society for Human Rights (NSHR) and the Parents' Committee. 
The disparity in numbers will continue until a full 
investigation by the Government and the ICRC is completed. 

The whereabouts of people detained by the former South African 
(SA) administration in Namibia also remained unclear. 
According to a 1990 NSHR report, the whereabouts and fate of 59 
people remain unknown. 

In June the Government formally rec[uested ICRC assistance in 
determining the identities and whereabouts of Namibians who 
died or disappeared during this period. In October SWAPO 
appointed a liaison officer to facilitate the transmission of 
tracing rec[uests between the ICRC and the Government. In 
October the Government also asked the U.N. High Commissioner 
for Refugees (UNHCR) and the Governments of South Africa, 
Zambia, Botswana, and the People's Republic of Angola to 
appoint similar liaison officers. As the year ended, none of 
the four neighboring Governments had done so. 

c. Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading 
Treatment or Punishment 

The Namibian Constitution states that "no persons shall be 
subject to torture or to cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment 
or punishment." Although they are greatly reduced from the 
preindependence period, there were a number of reports of 
torture or other inhuman treatment by police and military 
forces during 1991. Following the theft in August of uraniiom 
oxide from the Rossing mine, the National Union of Namibian 
Workers (NUNW) charged that three of its members suspected of 
the theft were beaten and tortured during interrogation. All 
three reportedly had wet plastic bags pulled over their heads, 
and two, with arms and legs bound, were hung from a broomstick 
resting between two office desks. They pressed charges, which 
were under investigation as the year ended. 

According to the NUNW, three policemen were expelled from the 
police force earlier in the year for "torturing" prisoners, but 
no specifics were available. There were also several shootings 
and other forms of harassment against civilians by members of 
the NDF. The Government publicly urged citizens to come 



270 



NAMIBIA 

forward with allegations of abuse by police or military forces 
so that disciplinary measures could be taken. Of several dozen 
NDF members tried by military courts for offenses against 
civilians, some 30 were found guilty and dismissed from the 
armed forces. It is not clear how many of these cases involved 
torture or other human rights violations. The NSHR reported 
that Paulus "Katemo" Johannes was subjected to severe torture 
while in police detention in Ruacana. He was accused of being 
a spy for UNITA and was held for 5 months without trial. His 
torturers reportedly tightened wire around his head in order to 
exert maximum physical as well as psychological pain. The NSHR 
referred his case to the High Court, which ordered his release 
in early May. An investigation by the Prosecutor General into 
the circumstances of his detention was continuing as the year 
ended . 

d. Arbitrary Arrest, Detention, or Exile 

The Constitution forbids arbitrary arrest or detention. 
According to the Constitution, persons who are arrested must be 
informed of the reason for their arrest "promptly, in a 
language they understand," and they must be brought before a 
magistrate within 48 hours of their detention. A trial must 
take place within "a reasonable time," or the accused must be 
released. The accused are entitled to defense by a legal 
counsel of their choice; the State will provide a lawyer for 
the indigent. These rights and protections have generally been 
afforded in practice since independence. However, in April the 
NSHR charged the police and the NDF with unconstitutional 
arrests and detentions without trial. The Government has made 
no response to these charges. There is a reported backlog of 
cases awaiting trial due to a lack of magistrates; a number of 
judgments rendered by inadequately trained magistrates have 
been overturned upon review by the Prosecutor General. Other 
delays have resulted from the paucity of legal counsel — less 
than 100 lawyers are currently engaged in private practice in 
the country; no more than 10 of these are black. 

There were no reports of Naunibians being exiled in 1991. 

e. Denial of Fair Public Trial 

Namibia has an independent judiciary, and under the 
Constitution all citizens have the right to a fair trial. 
Neimibia has retained the Roman-Dutch court system it inherited 
from South Africa as well as tribal courts. In the formal 
system, there are three levels: magistrate's courts, the High 
Court, and the Supreme Court. The latter also serves as the 
court of appeals and as a constitutional review court. The 
Supreme Court is also charged with hearing cases of persons who 
claim to have been tortured by former South African authorities. 

The tenure of sitting judges was unaffected by the 1990 change 
in government. Traditional courts have dealt with minor 
criminal offenses, such as petty theft and infractions of local 
customs. A presidential commission was to make recommendations 
on the prospective jurisdiction of tribal courts, which have 
functioned at the village level among members of the same 
ethnic group. The Constitution guarantees that persons 
claiming violation of their fundamental rights may seek redress 
in court and request free legal advice from the Ombudsman, 

In the post independence period, the right to a fair trial has 
been afforded in practice. However, there have been charges of 
racial bias in court decisions. 



271 



NAMIBIA 

In September three persons were given sentences, which ranged 
from a $180 fine to 4 years' imprisonment, for their supporting 
roles in an aborted coup attempt in mid-1990. SWAPO party 
leaders and other organizations led public demonstrations to 
protest the perceived leniency of the sentences and demanded 
that the Government impose harsher penalties. However, the 
SWAPO-led Government refused to do so, noting the 
constitutional separation of powers and the independence of the 
judiciary and that it respected the courts' determinations. 

Redress for alleged crimes by the SADF prior to independence 
hinged on the outcome of a landmark case brought before the 
Namibian courts in September 1990, for which a judgment was 
rendered in October 1991. In this case, Israel Mwandingi 
sought damages from the Namibian Government and the Ministry of 
Defense after being shot in the back by the SADF, SWATF, or SWA 
police in a 1987 shooting in Ongwediva, northern Namibia. The 
court upheld his contention that Namibian authorities — as 
successors to the South African Government and its Ministry of 
Defense — were liable for damages. No amount for such damages 
had been determined as of year's end, however. 

f . Arbitrary Interference with Privacy, Family, Home, or 
Correspondence 

The legal requirement that arresting officers must have a 
warrant and the constitutionally safeguarded right to privacy 
were respected in practice in 1991. 

No evidence exists that unlawful electronic surveillance or 
interference with correspondence are conducted against Namibian 
citizens . 

Section 2 Respect for Civil Liberties, Including: 

a . Freedom of Speech and Press . 

The Constitution provides for these fundamental freedoms, 
including academic freedom in institutions of higher learning, 
and it states these rights may not be suspended in time of war 
or during a state of emergency. In practice, these freedoms 
have been respected since independence. 

All radio and television services are operated by the 
government-owned Namibian Broadcasting Corporation (NBC); a 
broadly representative government-appointed board sets policy 
for the NBC. Although the NBC routinely gives prominent 
coverage to the activities of government officials, it also 
provided significant coverage to opposition spokespersons and 
issues. 

Print journalism in Namibia is free and vigorous. At present 
there are three daily, one semiweekly, and four weekly 
newspapers of general interest. One (a weekly) is published by 
the Government, and several others are affiliated to political 
parties. There was no apparent self-censorship by journalists, 
aside from the constraints of libel laws (which impose stricter 
limits with regard to public figures than does U.S. law) and a 
general circumspection with regard to the person of the 
President. Within the local media council, however, one 
newspaper can charge another with erroneous reporting, which 
has resulted in editorial retractions. There are no 
restrictions on academic freedom. 



272 



NAMIBIA 

b. Freedom of Assen±)ly and Association 

The new Constitution provides for freedom of assembly and 
association. During 1991 various organizations, including 
political parties and religious groups, held large meetings and 
public gatherings without interference. These included 
demonstrations against the perceived lenient sentences meted 
out to three persons for participating in a 1990 coup plot and 
protests to several municipal governments over poor housing and 
sanitary conditions in the still largely segregated townships. 

c. Freedom of Religion 

There is no state religion, and Namibians have enjoyed freedom 
of religion since well before independence. There are no 
restrictions on the activities of particular religious groups 
or on foreign clergy members and, in contrast to the 
preindependence period, no restrictions on internal or foreign 
travel of church leaders. 

d. Freedom of Movement Within the Country, Foreign 
Travel, Emigration, and Repatriation 

The Constitution guarantees the rights to move freely 
throughout Namibia, to reside and settle in any part of 
Namibia, and to leave and return to Namibia, and these rights 
are respected in practice. During and after the transition to 
independence, a total of 42,736 Namibian exiles (returnees) 
returned to the country as part of the UNHCR repatriation 
program, which ended in June 1990. Many returnees have since 
encountered difficulties in reintegrating into life in Namibia, 
and the majority in 1991 faced continued unemployment. 

The Government had not developed a consistent policy on 
refugees or asylum seekers by the end of 1991 and was still 
reviewing the possibility of acceding to the Protocol Relating 
to the Status of Refugees. Sporadic incidents occurred in 
which persons seeking refugee status were deported or jailed 
upon their arrival in the country. Police at a northern border 
post detained one Kenyan and two Zairean nationals seeking 
refugee status for several months before informing U.N. 
officials. Despite growing public criticism, the Government 
continued to review on a case-by-case basis the requests of 128 
persons classified as refugees by the UNHCR. Of this group, 
two were held in Windhoek central prison; the remainder were 
given unofficial temporary residence with the proviso that they 
make plans to leave the country as soon as possible. 

Section 3 Respect for Political Rights: The Right of Citizens 
to Change Their Government 

Citizens exercised their right to change their Government in 
nonracial, multiparty elections held in 1989 and characterized 
as free and fair by the United Nations' special 
representative. The Constitution establishes a bicameral 
parliament, the National Assembly, and calls for free general 
elections by secret ballot every 5 years and regional elections 
every 2 years. As 1991 ended, only the lower house was 
functioning. The Government promised regional elections for 
the crucial second parliamentary chamber, the National Council, 
in 1992. 

Seven political parties are currently represented in the 
Namibian National Assembly. The SWAPO-led Government has 45 of 
the 78 seats in the Assembly, and the DTA, the major opposition 



273 



NAMIBIA 

/ 
party, holds 21 seats. Five small parties are also 
represented. The DTA, together with the other non-SWAPO 
parties in Parliament, can block constitutional changes, which 
require a two-thirds majority of all members. 

Section 4 Governmental Attitude Regarding International and 

Nongovernmental Investigation of Alleged Violations 
of Human Rights 

During 1991 local organizations such as the National Society 
for Human Rights (NSHR), the Parents' Committee, and the Legal 
Assistance Centre (LAC), operated freely, criticizing the 
Government's handling of the preindependence SWAPO detainee 
issue, the treatment of refugees, the repatriation of exiled 
children of SWAPO members, the conduct of the presidential 
security guard, and other matters. Unlike the Parents' 
Committee and the LAC, which existed before independence, the 
NSHR is a new, private Namibian human rights organization, 
established in early 1990. Like the Parents' Committee, its 
principal focus is on the SWAPO detainee issue and accounting 
for persons who disappeared while in custody under the previous 
government. The LAC is highly regarded for its assistance, 
especially to indigent defendants. It also follows the 
detainee issue, but its current primary focus is on legal 
education, for which it coordinated with the Ministry of 
Education to develop a constitutional curriculum for schools 
and lectures on human rights issues for police cadets and 
defense force trainees. 

International human rights organizations are free to visit and 
to discuss human rights issues with governmental and 
nongovernmental representatives. In February the Government 
hosted a Swedish-funded week-long conference on human rights 
for public officials. In June the Government formally asked 
the ICRC to help investigate the identities and circumstances 
under which Namibians died or disappeared during the 
independence struggle (see Section l.b.). In October the 
Government announced its intention to establish a Human Rights 
Information and Documentation Center in early 1992 and 
submitted funding proposals to UNHRC and other donors. 

Section 5 Discrimination Based on Race, Sex, Religion, 
Language, or Social Status 

The Constitution prohibits discrimination based on race, creed, 
sex, or religion and specifically prohibits "the practice and 
ideology of Apartheid." In December the National Assembly 
enacted a bill to outlaw racial discrimination and to punish 
its perpetrators with severe fines or prison sentences. Racial 
discrimination continued in 1991 to be a very sensitive 
political issue. As a result of many years of South African 
administration, racial and ethnic discrimination were 
institutionalized in Namibian society to the same extent as in 
South Africa itself. This was particularly true with respect 
to serious inec[ualities in education, health, housing, and 
employment, which nonwhites complain are not being adec[uately 
addressed by government action. In a highly publicized 
incident, a white hotel manager in the Northern town of Out jo 
was accused of refusing service to two black Namibians (one was 
a Deputy Minister and Member of Parliament). In proceedings 
beginning in October, the courts sought to determine whether 
the manager's actions were in fact racially motivated and thus 
in contradiction of Article 10 of the Constitution. (For a 
discussion of white/black disparities, see Section 6. a.) 



274 



NAMIBIA 

Women's rights are guaranteed by the Constitution, but in 
practice discrimination against women, especially stemming from 
pervasive cultural and traditional practices of all races, 
persists. There are also inequalities in the law and in 
employment and educational opportunities. For instance, under 
existing community property laws, married women of all groups 
are defined as legal minors and may not legally acquire or 
purchase property or enter into a legal contract without the 
signature and consent of the husband. At present, any property 
brought into a marriage by a woman is transferred to the 
ownership of her husband, who has the authority to decide its 
disposition without her consent. A woman is considered a ward 
of her father until she marries; then she becomes a ward of her 
husband. The law also does not currently compel men to provide 
economic support for their children in case of divorce, with 
the result that there are many indigent mothers. Women are not 
barred from pursuing higher education but tend to be directed 
to certain educational fields and areas of employment, such as 
clerical and secretarial work, teaching, and domestic service. 
Several women's groups are working to change these inequalities 
to ensure that constitutional guarantees for women are put into 
practice. In one positive development during 1991, traditional 
leaders stopped taking communal land rights away from widows. 

Violence against women is reportedly widespread, particularly 
wife beating and rape. The courts have traditionally treated 
cases of wife beating as assaults, but because of traditional 
attitudes regarding the subordination of women, most such cases 
do not reach the courts. In addition, many cases of wife 
beating are not reported to the authorities. Others, which are 
brought to the attention of the police, are reportedly 
dismissed as frivolous, and the alleged perpetrator is not 
charged. Women's groups and other women's rights advocates 
contended that rape and wife beating were not taken seriously 
by police, claiming that police prefer not to interfere in 
domestic disputes and that prosecutions of rape and convictions 
for it are the exception. In October, however, the Namibian 
High Court condemned the application of the "cautionary rule" 
in cases involving sexual assault as contrary to the 
Constitution and held that the same standards of evidence 
should be applied for rape cases as for other crimes. Women's 
groups and the LAC applauded this decision. 

Section 6 Worker Rights 

a. The Right of Association 

Namibia's Constitution provides for freedom of association, 
including freedom to form and join trade \inions, a right that 
will be extended to public servants, farm workers, and domestic 
employees under a new Labor Code tabled in Parliament at the 
end of the year. It is to be debated and enacted early in 
1992. Approximately half of Namibia's 200 , 000-person wage 
sector work force is organized to some degree. Less than 20 
percent of the total economically active population is 
unionized. Very few of the country's 36,000 rural laborers are 
organized. Unions are independent of government and may form 
federations and confederations, of which there are several. 

The principal trade union federation is the National Union of 
Namibian Workers (NUNW), a SWAPO-aligned federation of 7 
industrial unions which claims a membership of over 70,000. 
Most workers in the mining industry, the country's key export 
sector, are members of the NUNW-af filiated Mineworkers Union of 
Namibia (MUN) . Some union leaders are also SWAPO officials and 



275 



NAMIBIA 

have served in the National Assembly. In December several 
prominent union leaders were elected to SWAPO's Central 
Committee. The NUNW, however, now expects labor leaders to 
resign if appointed to high government office. The current 
NUNW leadership does not hesitate to promote its concept of 
workers' interests even when their positions are not in line 
with government policies. The Confederation of Namibian 
Christian Social Trade Unions (NCSTU) and other unions claim to 
be nonpartisan and in practice confine their activities to 
labor-management relations. The Ministry of Labor and Manpower 
Development encourages broad cooperation within the labor 
movement, while supporting trade union pluralism and 
maintaining a strict policy of noninterference with internal 
union matters. , Trade unions have no difficulty registering, 
and there are no government restrictions on who may serve as a 
union official. 

Namibian workers, except for those providing essential 
services, enjoy the right to strike once conciliation 
procedures have been exhausted. The proposed Labor Code will 
extend the right to strike to public servants, farm workers, 
and domestics. Under the Code, strike action could only be 
used in disputes involving worker interests, such as pay 
raises. Disputes over worker rights, including dismissals, 
would have to be referred to the Labor Courts or for 
arbitration. Legally striking workers would gain protection 
from dismissal under the proposed Labor Code. 

There has yet to be a legal strike in Namibia. Nevertheless, 
during the first year of independence there were at least 30 
reported work stoppages over pay, dismissal, and pension 
issues, with most actions lasting for no more than a few days. 
In no case had the strikers exhausted existing procedures for 
settling disputes. A series of wildcat strikes in Windhoek 
during September-November 1990 led to the tear gassing of a 
bakery sit-in and the mass firings of transport and security 
workers. During 1991 labor unrest abated, with short work 
stoppages reported among nurses and construction workers, among 
others. 

The International Labor Organization (ILO) has been 
instrumental in assisting Namibia with the drafting of the 
proposed new Labor Code. Trade unions are free to exchange 
visits with foreign trade unions and to affiliate with 
international trade union organizations, and they exercise this 
freedom without interference. 

b. The Right to Organize and Bargain Collectively 

In 1985 the Supreme Court of what was then South West 
Africa/Namibia recognized the right of collective bargaining 
without intervention by other government agencies. The 
proposed Labor Code lays down minimal standards, in accordance 
with international labor practices, and guarantees employees 
the right to bargain individually or collectively. At present, 
collective bargaining is not widely practiced outside the 
mining and construction industries; wages are usually set by 
employers. Even in the minirig sector, union officials complain 
that the lack of access to financial information on companies 
heunpers effective negotiation. 

When a dispute cannot be resolved directly, the first recourse 
for workers is to request that the Cabinet create a 
conciliation board under the Wage and Industrial Conciliation 
Ordinance of 1952, with a mediator and representatives of both 



50-726 - 92 - 10 



276 



NAMIBIA 

sides. The proposed Labor Code retains the conciliation board 
mechanism under the supervision of the Labor Commissioner. 
Conciliation boards have mostly been used in wage disputes and 
to a lesser extent to negotiate working conditions, overtime 
hours, and reinstatement of dismissed employees. Under the 
proposed Labor Code, if union recognition cannot be obtained by 
consensus, it can be sought through recourse to a labor court. 

Current law does not effectively prohibit antiunion 
discrimination by employers against union members and 
organizers. Employers do not have to recognize a union and may 
dismiss members and organizers if they wish. However, the new 
Labor Code would empower the labor courts to remedy unfair 
labor practices. The new Labor Code explicitly forbids unfair 
dismissals, which may also be brought on appeal to the labor 
court. No formal complaints of discrimination were filed in 
1991, although union officials regularly hear such complaints. 

At present, there are no export or offshore processing zones or 
facilities in Namibia. One is planned, and the Prime Minister 
has stated that the workers in such zones will be protected by 
the Labor Code. 

c. Prohibition of Forced or Compulsory Labor 

Forced labor is prohibited by law, but during the June 1991 
Land Reform Conference, there were reports that farm workers 
sometimes receive little or no compensation for labor and are 
strictly controlled by farm owners. There were also reports at 
the conference that some farm workers are still subject to 
physical punishment by their employers, although there were no 
formal complaints filed with the Ministry of Labor in 1991. Of 
all Namibian workers, farm labor is the least organized for 
collective action. 

d. Minimum Age for Employment of Children 

The minimum age for employment is 15 years. Age regulations 
are generally enforced in the wage sector pursuant to the 
Employment Act of 1986. However, children below the age of 15 
often work on family and commercial farms and in the informal 
sector. Boys in the rural areas traditionally start herding 
livestock at age 7, and street vending by children is becoming 
a more common sight in urban areas. The proposed Labor Code 
empowers the Ministry of Labor inspectors to enforce 
prohibitions on child labor, including minimum ages of 16 for 
underground work and 18 for night work. The labor courts are 
now able to hear criminal charges against violators. 

e. Acceptable Conditions of Work 

There is no statutory minimum wage law in Namibia. The 
proposed Labor Code does not establish a minimum wage, but it 
provides for the creation of a wages commission by the Minister 
of Labor to determine appropriate living wages. Unskilled 
workers in the relatively high paying mining sector earn about 
twice the amount urban unskilled laborers earn. Domestic 
workers earn much less. Since basic living costs in Windhoek's 
traditionally nonwhite townships are high, most nonwhite 
workers have difficulty maintaining a decent standard of 
living. Union leaders hope to make extensive use of the wage 
commission procedure to redress past inequalities and achieve 
the goal of a "living wage" for all Namibians. However, an 
unemployment rate of more than 25 percent and chronic 



277 



NAMIBIA 

double-digit inflation tend to turn wage negotiations into 
efforts to maintain real wage levels. 

White Namibians earn significantly more on average than their 
black compatriots. In large part this is due to their 
ownership of most of the country's productive resources and 
past preferential access to education that enables them to take 
advantage of the skilled labor shortage. Moreover, even when 
access was guaranteed, educational facilities for black 
Namibians were vastly inferior to those which whites enjoyed. 
Allegations continue to surface that nonwhite skilled employees 
often earn less than their white counterparts doing the same 
job or whites performing unskilled tasks. Perhaps because they 
are under greater public scrutiny, state-owned enterprises are 
often accused in the press of engaging in discriminatory hiring 
and pay practices. However, there have been no reported court 
cases involving racial discrimination in the workplace. 

The standard legal workweek was 46 hours, which would be 
reduced to 45 hours by the proposed Labor Code. If the 
employee freely agrees, up to 10 hours of overtime per week is 
currently allowed at time-and-a-third pay. Overtime would be 
increased to time-and-a-half and double for Sundays /holidays 
under the proposed Code. Legally, more than 10 hours per week 
of overtime have to be approved by the Government. The new law 
will also mandate annual leave (21 days), sick leave (36 days), 
and a yet-to-be determined amount of maternity leave. Most 
employees are entitled to 21 calendar days of leave per year. 
In practice, these provisions are not rigorously observed or 
enforced. 

Government-mandated occupational health and safety standards 
are set by law, and the Labor Code empowers the Ministry of 
Labor to strengthen applicable regulations and enforcement 
through inspections and criminal penalties. The Labor Code 
also requires employers to ensure the health, safety, and 
welfare of their employees and provides for the right to remove 
oneself from dangerous work situations. At year's end, the 
Government was conducting a national survey in an effort to 
upgrade health and safety standards. Improvement of safety 
conditions is a key trade union concern, particularly in the 
mining sector where safety campaigns by the mining companies 
have reduced the combined reportable injury and fatality rates. 



278 



NIGER 



Under growing public pressures, the authoritarian 
military-civilian regime, headed by General Ali Saibou, 
peacefully turned over power to a National Conference which met 
from July 29 to November 3. The Conference involved 1,200 
conferees from a comprehensive array of nationally 
representative groups. During its deliberations, it declared 
itself the nation's authoritative governing body, suspended the 
1989 constitution, dissolved other institutions (the National 
Assembly and the National Council of Development) and dismissed 
all ministers and turned over day-to-day government operations 
to secretaries general. It also debated a wide range of 
political, economic, and social reform policies and planned 
presidential, legislative, and municipal elections for late 
1992 or early 1993. In November the Conference chose Prime 
Minister Amadou Cheiffou to head a 15-month Transitional 
Government and also elected a 15-member High Council of the 
Republic (HCR) to assure execution of conference decisions. 
General Saibou was retained as ceremonial Head of State. At 
year's end, Niger awaited a new constitution, to be submitted 
to a national referendum in 1992. 

The military, which had been in power since 1974, made no 
effort to intervene in the reform process but remained a force 
behind the scenes. In addition to the military, Nigerien 
security organizations include the gendarmerie and the national 
police. There were occasional reports of human rights abuses 
by these organizations, although fewer than in previous years. 
The National Conference directed the Directorate of State 
Security, a political investigative organ which formerly 
reported to the Presidency, to report to the Prime Minister 
during the transition. Civilians headed the ministries charged 
with supervision of the security services. 

Niger is an extremely poor country with an economy based 
largely on cultivating subsistence crops, raising livestock, 
and exploiting some of the world's largest uranium deposits. 
Drought cycles, desertification, a 3.4 percent population 
growth rate, and the declining world demand for uranium have 
undercut an already marginal economy. Due in part to the 
nation's focus on major political changes, the economy and 
World Bank reform programs reached a virtual standstill. 

Respect for, and protection of, human rights expanded 
significantly in Niger throughout 1991. In early 1991, human 
rights organizations were formed, were fully recognized, and 
operated without hindrance for the first time. Prior to the 
July opening of the National Conference, and as pressure for 
democratization increased. President Saibou instituted new laws 
which widened freedoms of the press and of association and 
fully legalized the multiparty system, first announced in 
November 1990. At the National Conference, citizens from all 
social strata had the opportunity to state their opinions, 
become involved in politics, and criticize government policies 
and officials, including the Head of State. The National 
Conference held public hearings to explore the Government's 
role in two 1990 incidents of human rights abuses. These 
hearings revealed allegations of large-scale killings and 
torture. Despite the steady improvement in human rights 
policies, individual law enforcement officials continued to 
commit human rights abuses. 



279 

NIGER 

RESPECT FOR HUMAN RIGHTS 

Section 1 Respect for tlie Integrity of the Person, Including 
Freedom from 

a. Political and Other Extrajudicial Killing 

There were no reports of political and extrajudicial killings 
in 1991. The National Conference conducted a public hearing 
into two 1990 incidents. One occurred on February 9, 1990, 
when security forces fired on violent student protesters, 
killing three. The other occurred in May 1990 when military 
forces in Tchintabaraden and nearby villages responded to 
antigovernment Tuareg assailants with excessive force, killing 
many of the Tuareg. The Government claimed 63 were killed, 
while others claimed there were upward of 300 deaths. The 
conference also heard evidence that Tuareg insurgents in 
Tchintabaraden had caused nine deaths and determined the need 
to investigate those incidents more fully. The National 
Conference suspended senior military, police, and civilian 
officials implicated in both incidents, pending completion of 
the investigations and possible trials. The investigations had 
not been completed by year's end. 

b. Disappearance 

There were no reports of politically motivated abductions or 
disappearances in 1991. 

c. Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading 
Treatment or Punishment 

The National Conference denounced the authorities' use of 
torture revealed during the public hearing of the 1990 
Tchintabaraden case. There were no reports of systematic 
torture of political prisoners or detainees during the year, 
but random instances of abuse by individual law enforcement or 
prison officers occurred. Specifically, they inflicted 
physical pain on detainees to extract confessions. In one 
instance in 1991, military personnel severely beat several 
townspeople in retaliation against civilians who had attacked 
an unarmed soldier. 

d. Arbitrary Arrest, Detention, or Exile 

Although the suspended constitution, still considered partly in 
effect, contains legal prohibitions against arbitrary 
detention, this prohibition was rarely respected in 1991. In 
theory, the law requires that an arrested person be either 
charged or released within 48 hours. In special cases, the 
public prosecutor, who is also the head of the judicial police, 
may authorize one renewal of the 48-hour detention period. In 
practice, unauthorized delays beyond the established 48-hour 
period frequently occurred, and prisoners often spent months in 
jail awaiting trial. Failure of the police or public 
prosecutor to respect the 48-hour rule does not require 
dismissal of the case against a suspect. 

Once charged, a suspect may be further detained by order of the 
examining magistrate. In practice, however, charged suspects 
are often held beyond the legal time limits prescribed 
according to the nature of the crime and may be in jail as long 
as a year awaiting completion of the magistrate's 
investigation. Defendants are allowed access to a lawyer of 
their own choice. Bail is available for crimes carrying a 



280 



NIGER 

penalty of less than 10 years' imprisonment. In practice, 
widespread ignorance and lack of financial means prevent these 
rights from being exercised fully. There were no new reports 
of political detainees or prisoners in 1991. 

Exile is not used as a means of political control in Niger, but 
persons have exiled themselves voluntarily in the past. Many 
exiles returned to Niger in 1991 to form parties and 
associations and to participate in the National Conference. 

e. Denial of Fair Public Trial 

Niger's civil legal system is an amalgam of French, Islamic, 
and customary law. Traditional courts often handle village 
property disputes, which are brought to the civil courts when 
not resolved. Civil and criminal cases not involving security- 
related acts are tried publicly. Defendants have the right to 
be present at their trials, to confront witnesses, and to 
present evidence. Niger's penal code affirms the judicial 
principle of presumption of innocence. Defendants have the 
right to counsel at public expense if they are minors or if 
they are indigent and face the prospect of a sentence of 10 
years or more. Both the defendant and the prosecutor may 
appeal the verdict, first to the Court of Appeals and then to 
the highest court, the Supreme Court. Both Courts are 
obligated to hear appeals. The Court of Appeals reviews 
questions of fact and law while the Supreme Court reviews only 
the application of the law. 

The suspended constitution calls for an independent judiciary. 
In practice, however, it has been common for government 
officials and others to use their influence to affect judicial 
proceedings through political pressure and family influence. 
The State Security Court and the Special Court for Embezzled 
Funds, the two courts which formerly functioned outside the 
normal criminal framework and sometimes in secret, ceased to 
function in 1991. The mandate of the State Security Court 
expired when no new judges were named. The Embezzlement Court 
was abolished by the National Conference. The executive 
privilege of pardon for convicted criminals was not exercised 
in 1991. 

In April the Government tried before the State Security Court 
44 Tuareg prisoners accused of introducing arms illegally into 
Niger, undermining state security, and conspiring against the 
State in Tchintabaraden in May 1990. The trial was held in 
public, and all defendants were acquitted and freed due to lack 
of evidence . 

The National Conference created a commission on crimes to 
investigate over 180 political, economic, and social "crimes 
and abuses" committed since independence. The Conference 
conducted public hearings on a selection of these crimes, which 
at times began to resemble extrajudicial proceedings. The 
Conference never passed final judgment on any crime, although 
it suspended a few senior officials and placed others under 
house arrest, pending the outcome of the investigations. The 
crimes commission was charged with completing its work by 
January 1993, with possible extension, and submitting dossiers 
ready for trial to the High Court of Justice, a special court 
created by the National Conference exclusively for this purpose. 



281 



NIGER 

f . Arbitrary Interference with Privacy, Family, Home, or 
Correspondence . 

The police are required to have a search warrant to enter homes 
and then may do so only between the hours of 6 a.m. and 9 p.m. 
However, when in hot pursuit of a suspected criminal, the 
police are permitted to conduct searches in homes and buildings 
without a warrant, at any time. In practice, searches are 
conducted at all hours. There were no reports in 1991 of other 
violations of privacy, such as interference with correspondence. 

Section 2 Respect for Civil Liberties, Including: 

a. Freedonj of Speech and Press 

Freedom of speech and of the press increased dramatically in 
1991, with free speech being most in evidence during the 
National Conference. Buttressed by a national labor federation 
strike, the Association of Nigerien Journalists declared 
complete autonomy from the Government at the end of March 
1991. This change led to a relaxation of many of the 
restrictions on the government-controlled media prior to the 
National Conference. Le Republicain, an independent weekly, 
and several smaller private publications were launched in 
1991. The National Conference was covered openly by the press, 
including the government media. On October 29, the National 
Conference issued Act 26, declaring full liberty for the media 
and creating a Superior Council of Communication to guarantee 
this freedom. Students and faculty at the university and 
secondary-school levels and at professional institutions 
continued to play a prominent role in the democratization 
process. Academic freedom was respected. 

b. Freedom of Peaceful Assembly and Association 

Although the 1989 constitution authorized freedom of assembly 
and association, these rights were fully exercised for the 
first time only in 1991. Throughout the first half of 1991, 
students, labor unions, and independent associations held 
demonstrations, some of them violent, to protest government 
policies . 

In May the law governing associations was amended to permit all 
kinds of groups, except those that are ethnically or regionally 
based. The law previously limited the right of association to 
six groups: youth, students, sports and culture, foreign, 
religious, and charity. In 1991 the number of opposition 
parties and associations mushroomed to include 3 human rights 
organizations and some 25 political parties. 

c. Freedom of Religion 

Niger reaffirmed its status as a secular state at the National 
Conference. While the population is nominally over 90 percent 
Muslim, the practice of other religious beliefs is permitted. 
Foreign missionaries may live, work, and travel in Niger but 
must obtain permission to do so. On December 3, the Baha'i 
faith was granted full legal status. Until then, it was 
practiced despite a 1984 law prohibiting it. 

d. Freedom of Movement Within the Country, Foreign 
Travel, Emigration, and Repatriation 

Travel within Niger continued to be monitored. Police 
checkpoints outside major cities and towns were kept in place. 



282 



NIGER 

though checks were less systematic in 1991. Some women are 
cloistered and must be escorted outside the home by male family 
members, usually only after dark. Neither emigration nor 
repatriation is restricted. Niger is a party to the Protocol 
Relating to the Status of Refugees and has cooperated with the 
U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in assisting the 
3,700 Chadian refugees registered in Niger as of May 1991. In 
October about 1,500 Chadian refugees left Niger voluntarily, 
primarily to go to Chad, Nigeria, or Cameroon. Approximately 
2,000 refugees remained in Niger, most of them women and 
children. 

Section 3 Respect for Political Rights: The Right of Citizens 
to Change Their Government 

Although the right of citizens to change their government was 
not exercised through the electoral process, in 1991 citizens 
changed their government through peaceful means. The National 
Conference, composed of delegations representative of various 
groups in Nigerien society, declared itself the nation's 
authoritative governing body and proceeded peacefully to 
consider multiple reforms in the executive, legislative, and 
judicial areas. Neither President Saibou nor the military 
resisted the transfer of authority. The conference continued 
in operation for over 3 months, finally electing a Transitional 
Government, headed by Prime Minister Amadou Cheiffou, to govern 
Niger pending secret, universal, and multiparty elections, 
projected for late 1992 or early 1993. President Saibou 
continued as Head of State, but his office became strictly 
ceremonial. A High Council of the Republic, composed of 15 
civilians elected by the National Conference, was formed to 
assure the implementation of the Conference's decisions 
throughout the transition. It also was to share unspecified 
legislative powers with the Prime Minister in the absence of an 
elected national assembly. 

Section 4 Governmental Attitude Regarding International and 

Nongovernmental Investigation of Alleged Violations 
of Human Rights 

Nongovernmental, independent human rights groups were created 
for the first time in Niger in 1991. Three such groups 
investigated allegations of human rights abuses reported to 
them by volunteer sources. After verifying the reports, the 
human rights groups protested to local authorities. Where no 
action was taken, human rights groups contacted higher 
authorities and, in some instances, issued public announcements 
to promote corrective action. Throughout 1991 the three groups 
operated freely and judged these procedures to be effective in 
countering human rights abuses. In March, prior to the 
expansion of the law governing associations, the Committee for 
the Defense of Victims of the Tchintabaraden Repression was 
formed to press for an investigation of the events of May 1990, 
with a view toward eventual prosecution of implicated security 
forces. Although it never acqiiired legal status, the Committee 
was not constrained by the Government and was still operating 
at the end of 1991. 

Amnesty International (AI) visited Niger three times in 1991 
prior to the National Conference. In February the Government, 
citing safety concerns, refused AI permission to travel to 
Tchintabaraden to investigate the killings in May 1990. With 
this exception, there was no interference with AI visits, 
including AI ' s attendance at the trial of 44 Tuareg prisoners. 



283 



NIGER 

Section 5 Discrimination Based on Race, Sex, Religion, 
Language, or Social Status 

In 1991 the process of democratization ended the traditional 
domination by the Djerma ethnic group (21 percent of the 
population) in government and military service. The Hausa 
(over 50 percent of the population), Tuareg, and Fulani (Peul) 
ethnic groups participated fully in the National Conference and 
received equal consideration for transition government 
candidacies and positions. However, the Tuareg and Fulani 
(together 21 percent of the population), two historically 
nomadic groups in transition still have less access to 
government services. Toward the end of the National 
Conference, Tuareg members expressed increasing dissatisfaction 
with continued government inattention to their problems. At 
year's end, there were increasing numbers of Tuareg attacks on 
government installations. 

By tradition and practice, and through specific aspects of 
Islam, women occupy a subordinate place in Niger ien society. 
Males have considerable advantages in terms of education, 
employment, and property rights. Male attendance heavily 
outweighs female attendance at all educational levels. Only 25 
percent of Niger ien children of primary school age actually 
attend schools, with progressively smaller percentages 
continuing into or through elementary and secondary school. 
Approximately 60 percent of the children finishing primary 
school are male. Consequeiitly, male literacy (15 percent) far 
exceeds female literacy (6 percent). Child labor practices 
outside the formal sector also inhibit education for young 
girls and were sharply criticized at the National Conference. 
Niger's traditions incline employers to favor men as 
employees. Prevailing Islamic laws of inheritance, marriage, 
and divorce discriminate against women. 

Certain discriminatory social practices persist. For example, 
girls as young as age 10 may be contracted into marriage, 
despite legal prohibitions against marriage for girls younger 
than 14. Violence occurs against women and children and 
includes wife beating, but the extent of this problem is 
unknown. Such violence is considered antisocial behavior in 
Nigerien society, and women often turn to both traditional and 
modern judicial authorities in cases of abuse. Female genital 
mutilation (circumcision) occurs but is limited to a few small 
ethnic groups. Niger has participated in international 
conferences on this subject but does not regard it as a major 
domestic problem and has not addressed the issue publicly. 

A small number of women participate in the professions. About 
one-third of Nigerien doctors and less than one-tenth of 
Niger's magistrates are women. Women in the civil service, the 
largest formal sector employer, represent only 24 percent of 
all civil servants and are confined to lower level positions. 
Though few in number, professional women receive wages 
equivalent to those paid males. 

The government-supported Nigerien Women's Association, with a 
network which has developed commercial cooperatives and social 
programs for village women, was criticized at the National 
Conference for misrepresenting women's concerns and for its 
affiliation with the former ruling party. Since 1988, several 
women's associations have emerged, including associations of 
female traders, educators, bankers, and, in 1991, jurists. 



284 



NIGER 

In May thousands of women, including members of the Nigerien 
Women's Association, publicly protested the absence of women in 
the preparatory committee for the National Conference. As a 
result, 5 women were placed on the 72-member committee. Women 
were also included in subsequent delegations to the Conference 
and headed two conference committees. Three women were 
elected to the 15-member High Council of the Republic. 

Among the first complaints made to the National Conference were 
complaints about the poor status of women. A subcommittee on 
improving the condition of women and children proposed a number 
of measures to reduce discrimination against women. The 
conference discussed in depth measures to alleviate the heavy 
physical labor required of rural women, to widen women's access 
to credit, and to provide equal opportunity in the 
administration, including at the ministerial level. The 
Conference also recommended a wider mandate for family 
planning, especially with respect to the use of contraception. 

Section 6 Worker Rights 

a. The Right of Association 

Approximately 90 percent of Niger's work force is employed in 
the largely subsistence rural sector, which is not unionized. 
In the small modern economy, all workers have the legal right 
to establish and join trade unions. The only existing labor 
federation, the National Union of Nigerien Workers (USTN) , 
represents 27 unions, or 30 percent of the approximately 60,000 
salaried workers in Niger. Another five unions are 
nonaffiliated. All union organizations are independent of 
Niger's new political parties and participated in the National 
Conference as representatives of their constituencies. 

In 1990 and 1991, prior to the National Conference, the USTN 
used strikes, including the threat of a general strike, to 
induce political and economic policy changes with an ultimate 
view to democratization. Union intervention helped maintain 
opposition control over the National Conference and also 
widened freedom of the press. Workers also struck on the eve 
of the National Conference as a tactic to obtain pay increases 
and improvement of benefits before the Conference addressed 
overall pay levels. Between 1990 and 1991, according to union 
officials, 75 percent of unionized workers had participated in 
a strike. In 1991 there were strikes by taxi and truck 
drivers, industrial workers, water and electricity workers, and 
diplomats. A strike at the public utilities company caused the 
removal of its government-appointed executive managers. 
Despite the frequency of politically motivated strikes in 1991, 
the Government provided compensation for time lost during work 
stoppages . 

The USTN is a member of the Organization of African Trade Union 
Unity and abides by that organization's policy of having no 
formal affiliations outside the African continent. Individual 
unions, however, such as the Teachers' Union of Niger, are 
affiliated with international trade secretariats. 

b. The Right to Organize and Bargain Collectively 

Collective bargaining is legally authorized, but, in practice, 
it is circumscribed by government participation in the 
negotiating process. A government representative is present at 
most negotiations and in certain circumstances acts as binding 
arbitrator. A basic framework agreement, negotiated by the 



285 



NIGER 

USTN's predecessor, the employers, and the Government, has been 
in force since 1972. The agreement covers basic work 
conditions, work contract elements, and union activities, but 
not wages. Individual unions may bargain for more favorable 
work conditions. 

The Labor Code, which is based on International Labor 
Organization (ILO) principles, prohibits antiunion 
discrimination by employers, and the USTN reported no such 
discrimination in 1991. There are no export processing zones 
in Niger . 

c. Prohibition of Forced or Compulsory Labor 

Niger's Labor Code prohibits forced or compulsory labor. 
However, black or darker-skinned Tuaregs reported to the 
National Conference that in remote areas of Niger white or 
lighter-skinned Tuaregs subjected many of their group to slave 
labor. 

d. Minimum Age for Employment of Children 

To work, children aged 12 and 13 must have special 
authorization from local labor inspectors. Children between 
the ages of 14 and 18 may be employed, subject to legal 
provisions limiting hours (4.5 hours meiximum per day) and types 
of employment (no industrial work) . Although child labor laws 
apply throughout the economy, local labor inspectors who 
enforce these laws inspect only workplaces in the formal 
sector, located primarily in urban areas. However, children 
generally do not work in the formal sector. Child labor is 
common in the unregulated subsistence agriculture and informal 
trade sectors, where most Niger iens are employed. Children 
often work for their families under harsh conditions that do 
not comply with the Labor Code's provisions. 

e. Acceptable Conditions of Work 

There is a legal minimum wage for salaried workers. According 
to union officials, this wage is not sufficient to provide a 
decent living for workers and their families. The legal 
workweek is 40 hours. However, certain occupations requiring 
irregular hours are authorized longer workweeks, with a maximum 
of 72 hours. The Labor Code also prescribes occupational 
safety and health regulations that are enforced by the labor 
inspectors in the Ministry of Civil Service, Labor, and 
Professional Training. Because of staff shortages, however, 
this office focuses mainly on safety violations in the mining, 
building, and industrial sectors. According to a ministry 
official, compliance is often difficult to enforce because 
workers may not be fully aware of the safety risks posed in 
their jobs and may refuse to wear protective clothing due to 
Niger's hot climate, although for the most part, employers 
provide adequate safety equipment. 



286 



NIGERIA 



Nigeria is ruled by a military regime, the Federal Military 
Government (FMG), headed by President Ibrahim Babangida, who 
came to power following a 1985 coup. A 19-member Armed Forces 
Ruling Council (AFRC) is the country's main decisionmaking 
organ, and its decisions, promulgated by decree, are the 
supreme law of the land. A 25-member, mixed military-civilian 
cabinet presides over executive functions. President Babangida 
controls both the AFRC and the Cabinet. Civilian chief 
executives elected in December and inaugurated in January 1992 
replaced military governors as head of each of the 30 states. 
A presidentially appointed administrator heads the Federal 
Capital Territory, Abuja. 

During 1991 the FMG continued its measured steps toward 
returning Nigeria along its own, firmly directed path toward 
democratic, civilian rule by 1992 (see Section 3). Nationwide 
voter registration exercises and party congresses at the ward, 
local government, and state levels were conducted. Party 
primaries, marred by widespread allegations of fraud, were held 
to select gubernatorial and state legislative candidates. 
State general elections by open ballot voting (see Section 3) 
were held on December 14. A national census that will be the 
basis for apportionment in the future civilian government was 
conducted in November. In his year-end speech. President 
Babangida announced that the controversial open ballot system 
of voting, used in December, would be used again for the 1992 
national elections, with certain unspecified modifications. 
Responding to pressure from various ethnic and regional groups, 
the FMG made radical changes in the Nigerian political map with 
the creation of 9 states (now 30) and 136 new local government 
areas (now 589) . 

The FMG enforces its authority through the federal security 
system — the military, the State Security Service, and national 
police — and through the courts. As in the past, police and 
security service officials committed numerous human rights 
violations, including arbitrary arrests, detention without 
trial, and excessive use of force. 

Most of Nigeria's population of over 100 million is rural, 
engaging in small-scale agriculture. The country depends on 
oil revenues for over 90 percent of export earnings and to pay 
for 80 percent of its budgetary expenses. In 1986 the FMG 
initiated the Structural Adjustment Prograim (SAP) to address 
economic problems exacerbated by the fall in oil revenues which 
began in 1981. The SAP has had mixed results. In 1990, for 
the third consecutive year, Nigeria's real gross domestic 
product (GDP) increased by more than the population growth 
rate. However, the SAP has led to growing public opposition. 
Unemployment is widespread, and underemployment is high in 
urban areas. Inflation rose sharply in 1991 due to excessive 
government spending. Extreme disparities of income exist, and 
the majority of Nigerians continue to live in poverty. 

Human rights in Nigeria continued to be circumscribed in 1991. 
The sections of the 1989 Constitution providing for individual 
liberties can be superseded by AFRC decrees; Decree Two in 
particular abridges due process with its broad detention 
powers. Major problem areas in 1991 included: extrajudicial 
killings, often involving the use of excessive force by 
security forces; police brutality; poor prison conditions; 
official mistreatment; arbitrary detentions; the lack of fair 
trials; and press closures. Law enforcement personnel are 
seldom, if ever, tried and punished for killings, torture, and 



287 



NIGERIA 

Other abuses. Ethnoreligious tensions between Muslims and 
Christians erupted again in communal rioting, resulting in 
hundreds of deaths in two major disturbances. There continue 
to be only two government-mandated political parties. The use 
of open ballot voting was heavily debated during the year, with 
many Nigerians asserting that it disenfranchised significant 
numbers of voters. 

RESPECT FOR HUMAN RIGHTS 

Section 1 Respect for the Integrity of the Person, Including 
Freedom from: 

a. Political and Other Extrajudicial Killing 

Continuing a trend from previous years, use of excessive force 
by police officers was common: in May, a Rivers state 
government commission of inquiry, investigating the deaths of 
over 20 persons in a disturbance in late 1990, recommended that 
120 policemen be prosecuted for acts of brutality during the 
disturbance. To date, however, no criminal charges have been 
filed. 

In March, seven unarmed persons were fatally shot by Lagos 
police, who alleged, contrary to witness accounts, that the 
seven were armed robbers. The Federal Ministry of Justice in 
December demanded prosecution of the policemen involved in the 
slaying of the seven; the decision results from findings of an 
investigatory panel headed by a Deputy Inspector General of 
Police. 

In another highly publicized case, a Lagos businessman was 
killed by police on May 15. Eyewitness accounts indicated 
brutality and contradicted the police claim that he was 
accidentally killed by a stray bullet. Policemen are to be 
tried for the murder. In several other cases, police 
reportedly killed persons while attempting to extort money from 
them, then claimed the victims were armed robbers shot in 
self-defense. There are also reports of criminal suspects 
being killed in jail or after being brought under police 
custody. One credible human rights group estimated at least 
three extrajudicial killings per month by police or security 
agents. In November, the Lagos State Commissioner of Police 
announced that a Police Inspector would be tried for the murder 
of an unarmed motorist at a police checkpoint. 

b. Disappearance 

There were no reported politically motivated disappearances. 
However, FMG detention practices have the effect of causing 
many detainees to be "missing" for extended periods (see 
Section 1 .d. ) . 

c. Torture, and Other Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading 
Treatment or Piinishment 

The 1989 Constitution prohibits torture and mistreatment of 
prisoners, and Nigerian law provides criminal sanctions for 
such excesses. However, there were numerous credible reports 
that police regularly beat suspects to extract criminal 
confessions. In December the national daily Pionch publicized 
the death of an 18-year-old trader while in police custody in 
the town of Kano, and the Committee for the Defense of Human 
Rights (CDHR) protested the deaths of two Lagos men, apparently 
beaten to death while in police custody in November. 



288 



NIGERIA 

Mistreatment of both male and female prisoners by guards and 
security officials were regular occurrences. Inmates often 
beat others at the behest of or with the consent of prison 
guards. Motorists at police checkpoints and pedestrians were 
often harassed and sometimes beaten by police officers trying 
to extort money. A leading member of a human rights 
organization was beaten at a police checkpoint, and several 
U.S. citizen summer interns working with the organization were 
harassed. There have been no known government investigations 
or disciplinary proceedings to punish those responsible for 
alleged abuses within prisons; investigations of abuses at 
police checkpoints are uncommon, though not unprecedented. 

Several student union leaders, detained in the aftermath of the 
threatened nationwide student strike in late May, complained of 
mistreatment by prison officials. Some of the students alleged 
that, under the threat of torture and after having been beaten, 
they were intimidated into signing false statements naming 
several human rights activists as the instigators of the 
student strike and ensuing campus disturbances. At least two 
student leaders went on a temporary hunger strike to protest 
their treatment. 

Conditions in Nigerian prisons continue to be life threatening 
due to disease and malnutrition. The Civil Liberties 
Organization (CLO), one of Nigeria's leading human rights 
groups, reported that lack of food and potable water was 
universal (approximately 50 cents per day is spent on each 
prisoner for food) . Many prisoners do not have adecpaate 
clothing and, according to credible sources, some go virtually 
naked. Severe overcrowding forced some prisoners to sleep in 
rows or in shifts. Inmates are sometimes manacled in their 
cells or placed in solitary confinement for long periods 
without justification, according to human rights groups. Time 
outside the cell for exercise is minimal. Most cells are 
poorly ventilated and filthy. Vermin are rampant, and most 
long-term prisoners suffer respiratory ailments or various skin 
diseases. Although most institutions have clinics, medical 
care is inadequate. One credible source indicates that female 
prisoners may give birth in prison with little medical 
assistance or postnatal care. Prison-born children can remain 
there for some time, without adeqiiate nutrition or schooling. 

The CLO estimates that over 2,000 inmates die yearly as a 
result of the poor prison conditions. In 1991 the CLO also 
instituted lawsuits to force the FMG to improve conditions or 
close some of the worst prisons. The suits are pending. The 
FMG, acknowledging shortcomings in the prison system, 
established the National Committee on Prison Reform in 1990. 
The Committee was charged with reporting on prison conditions 
and recommending improvements to the Attorney General in 1991. 
It had not reported its findings by the end of the year. 

During the year, however, the FMG released over 2,600 
prisoners — some elderly and terminally ill — for humanitarian 
purposes and initiated construction plans for new prisons. 

d. Arbitrary Arrest, Detention, or Exile 

The 1989 Constitution provides for trial within 3 months for 
the criminally accused in most cases. However, inefficient 
administrative procedures, petty extortion, and bureaucratic 
inertia resulted in many detainees and prisoners being held for 
protracted periods, sometimes years, without charge or trial. 



289 



NIGERIA 

Over 40 percent of Nigeria's 60,000 prisoners are awaiting 
trial or have not been charged, according to credible estimates. 

Police officers are empowered to make warrantless arrests if 
there is reasonable suspicion of an offense, or if they witness 
commission of an offense. These provisions give police 
officers wide discretion, which is frequently abused. Under 
the law, the arresting officer must inform the accused of the 
charges at the time of arrest and take the person to the 
station for processing within a reasonable time. The suspect 
must be given the opportunity to engage counsel and obtain 
bail. Credible reports indicate that the police did not 
generally adhere to these procedural safeguards and often held 
suspects incommunicado, under harsh prison conditions, for 
extended periods without informing them of their rights or the 
charges against them. 

Arbitrary detentions of ordinary citizens occurred throughout 
1991. Motorists and pedestrians detained by police were 
sometimes jailed for purposes of extortion. There were 
instances in which police, after unsuccessful searches for 
criminal suspects, detained the suspect's relatives. 

Decree Two of 1984, the State Security (detention of persons) 
Decree, provides that the FMG may detain without charge persons 
suspected of acts prejudicial to state security or harmful to 
the economic well-being of the country. When invoked. Decree 
Two suspends the detainee's civil liberties. Decree Two also 
contains a judicial ouster clause intended to prohibit judicial 
scrutiny of acts under its purview. In 1990 the FMG amended 
Decree Two, shortening the time a person may be detained 
without charge from 6 months to 6 weeks, naming the Vice 
President as the only authorized signatory of detention orders, 
and creating a review panel to make recommendations for the 
release or continued holding of detainees. 

Nonetheless, many Nigerians still consider Decree Two the main 
threat to their basic freedoms because the judicial ouster 
clause encourages arbitrary detention with impunity for the 
arresting officers. H\iman rights groups charged that the 
review panel rarely met and detention orders were generally 
renewed without review. Additionally, there are credible 
reports that the provisions for effecting a detention under the 
Decree were not always followed. Sources reported that many 
persons were detained without a prior order signed by the Vice 
President and that police and security officials subsequently 
forged detention orders. 

Decree Two was used in 1991 to detain and silence persons for 
antigovernment actions or statements. In the aftermath of a 
May and June national student strike and campus disturbances, 
the FMG said it had detained approximately 200 student leaders 
across the country, including the national executive officers 
of the banned National Association of Nigerian students (NANS), 
which had called the strike. Many of the students were 
detained under Decree Two; others were simply detained without 
charge. Many of the student leaders were detained over 2 
months before, being released in August and September . The FMG 
has not announced whether all detained students have been 
released, and human rights groups have been unable to determine 
if all have been released because the FMG never disclosed the 
identities of the detainees. 

Four journalists were detained for an article implicating 
police in the shooting deaths of two students during a campus 



290 



NIGERIA 

disturbance in Lagos, and two human rights activists were 
briefly detained in connection with student disturbances. 

Among the most publicized Decree Two detentions in 1991 were 
those of Gloria Mowarin and Dorah Mukoro, girlfriend and wife, 
respectively, of two fugitive officers implicated in the April 
1990 coup attempt. Both women were detained shortly after the 
unsuccessful coup. Mukoro was held with her children, one of 
whom was born in detention. These detentions appear illegal 
even under Decree Two, since the Government was holding the 
women for acts they did not commit. In August Mrs. Mukoro and 
her children escaped from detention. The FMG is still holding 
Ms. Mowarin despite a February court decision quashing her 
detention on technical grounds. A number of relatives of other 
suspected coup plotters are also under detention, but the exact 
number is unknown. 

Many criminal suspects were held under Decree Two, although the 
measure was not intended to apply to common crimes. As a 
result, these suspects can also be held indefinitely after 
charges are filed, and detention orders renewed, sometimes for 
periods exceeding the maximum penalty for their alleged 
offenses. This practice has not been discouraged by the 
Government . 

The FMG continued a process, begun in 1986, of reviewing the 
cases of persons detained, convicted or charged under various 
decrees during the previous military administration 
(1984-1985). The exact number of such cases reviewed was 
unknown but believed to be few. 

There were no instances of forced exile as a means of political 
control . 

e. Denial of Fair Public Trial 

Decree One of 1984, the Basic Constitution (modification and 
suspension) Decree, left the institutional framework of the 
judiciary relatively intact, but set up a parallel system by 
transferring jurisdiction over certain major criminal offenses 
from the courts to special tribunals, weakening the regular 
court system in the process. The independence of the judiciary 
has also been challenged seriously by the AFRC's assumption of 
the role as the final arbiter and by promulgation of decrees 
that prohibit judicial intervention. 

Under these decrees, the AFRC has transferred jurisdiction over 
cases involving corruption, currency violations, armed robbery, 
and a variety of miscellaneous offenses, such as drug 
trafficking and illegal oil sales, from the civilian judicial 
system to special tribunals. In these cases, those charged 
have access to legal assistance, bail (except in the case of 
armed robbery), and the right to appeal (except in the case of 
armed robbery and conviction under the civil disturbances 
decree). Prior to a decree passed in July 1991, military and 
police officers sat on these tribunals as coequals with a 
civilian judge. Pursuant to the new decree, only sitting or 
retired civilian judges can be on the tribunals. Nevertheless, 
these tribunals still do not provide full procedural safeguards 
normally granted the criminally accused. A leading human 
rights group, the Constitutional Rights Project (CRP), reported 
that the Recovery of Public Property Decree and Tribunal 
substitute a presumption of guilt for the presumption of 
innocence which customarily attaches in criminal proceedings. 
Sentences by these special tribunals are generally severe. 



291 



NIGERIA , 

Convictions for armed robbery by the Special Robbery and 
Firearms Tribunals carry the death sentence with no right of 
appeal, although the sentence must be confirmed by the state's 
governor before it is carried out. Conviction under the 
Treason and Other Offenses Tribunal (established in 1986) also 
carries the death sentence and provides for appeal only to the 
joint chiefs of staff. Its recommendations cannot be appealed 
but are subject to AFRC confirmation. Legal observers remain 
particularly critical of the mandatory death penalty without 
right of appeal, especially for cases involving armed robbers 
who have been sentenced to death for thefts of small amounts of 
money. Moreover, the CRP reported that rates of conviction in 
these tribunals over several years were 93 percent, and in one 
particular tribunal 100 percent. 

The regular court system is composed of both federal and state 
trial courts, state appeal courts, the federal Court of Appeal, 
and the federal Supreme Court. Courts of first instance under 
the 1989 Constitution include magistrate or district courts, 
customary or area courts, religious or Shari'a (Islamic) 
courts, and, for some specified cases, the state high courts. 

The nature of the case usually determines which court has 
jurisdiction. In principle, customary and Shari'a courts have 
jurisdiction only if both plaintiff and defendant agree to it, 
though in practice fear of legal costs, delay, and distance to 
alternative courts encourage many litigants to choose these 
courts. Under the 1989 draft constitution (scheduled to come 
into full effect in 1992) Shari'a courts are limited to 
followers of Islam and to only those states that establish them. 

Trials in the regular court system are public and generally 
respect constitutionally guaranteed individual rights. These 
include a presumption of innocence, the right to be present at 
a public trial, to confront witnesses and present evidence, and 
to be represented by legal counsel. There is legal provision 
for bail, but the Nigerian Bar Association and human rights 
groups charge that bail is underutilized. As a result, many 
accused persons remain in jail while awaiting trial for petty 
offenses. Bail is denied to those charged with murder, armed 
robbery, and drug offenses. 

Public complaints about judicial corruption were frequent in 
1991. There are credible claims that some judges sought 
government advice before deciding cases where the Government 
was a litigant; long adjournments are frequently granted in 
wrongful imprisonment cases filed against the Government. 
There were also credible reports that judges and security 
agents pressured individuals to drop suits against the FMG or 
state governments. Few released detainees or closed newspapers 
filed or pursued suits against the FMG. 

Nevertheless, within a complex legal system, in which the AFRC 
has encroached on the traditional role of the judiciary, 
Nigeria's courts have an established legal tradition, and a 
number of judges seek to uphold it. For example, in a lawsuit 
filed by several human rights groups against the temporary 
closure of the Guardian family of publications in May, the 
presiding Lagos State High Court judge issued a temporary 
injunction barring the Lagos state government from any further 
press closures during the pendency of the suit. 

Some observers allege that there are political prisoners in 
Nigerian jails, but they cannot provide specific information 
and often do not distinguish between detainees held without 



292 



NIGERIA 

charge and those convicted of political offenses. The number 
of politically motivated detentions at any one time varied 
widely during the year, from a handful to over 200 after the 
May-June student disturbances. 

f. Arbitrary Interference with Privacy, Family, Home, or 
Correspondence 

Nigerian society is generally free of arbitrary interference by 
the State in the private lives of its citizens. Provisions of 
the 1989 Constitution guarantee the rights of privacy in the 
home, in correspondence, and in oral electronic communications. 
While there have been isolated instances of unauthorized forced 
entry by security forces, the State does not carry out general 
surveillance of the population. 

Section 2 Respect for Civil Liberties, Including: 

a. Freedom of speech and press 

The 1989 Constitution provides for freedom of speech and the 
press, but it also reserves for the federal and state 
Governments the exclusive right to own and operate radio and 
television stations, the most important media for reaching the 
public. There are no restrictions on ownership of print media, 
and, despite considerable government intimidation, there is a 
lively press. Among the many Nigerian daily newspapers are 
seven privately owned national dailies with large circulations, 
one daily owned by the federal Government, and another in which 
the federal Government owns a majority share. Many states 
operate their own daily or weekly newspapers. In some states, 
privately owned dailies compete with state papers. Several 
weekly newsmagazines vie for national readership. 

Criticism of the Government is tolerated to a substantial 
degree, and there is open discussion of political, social, and 
economic issues. However, officials frequently caution 
journalists, both publicly and privately, on their 
responsibilities and the limits of acceptable press activity. 

Although there are no published guidelines or decrees directly 
limiting freedom of speech and the press. Decree Two 
prohibitions against acts prejudicial to state security or 
economic stability cast an expansive shadow, and most 
journalists make a well-considered decision before publishing 
sensitive news articles. The issues considered most sensitive 
by the Government continue to be identifying top government 
officials with corruption, publication of subjects the 
Government believes are incitements to riot or which undermine 
state security, and subjects which fall under "disrupting the 
transition to civilian rule program." As a result of these 
sensitivities, as well as the FMG's proven disposition to take 
action against offending publications, self-censorship is 
common . 

Journalists who did not exercise self-censorship were targeted 
during the year. The Guardian news publishing group (three 
newspapers and three magazines) was closed by the Lagos state 
government after the Guardian Express published an article 
implicating the police in the deaths of two students during a 
campus disturbance in late May. The editor and three 
journalists from the paper were detained for several days. 

From March 8 to March 21, John West publications (three 
separate publications) was closed by security agents after one 



293 



NIGERIA 

of its papers, the Lagos News, carried an article linking first 
lady Maryam Babangida to a Lagos socialite who is the key 
figure in a sensational corruption scandal; editors of the 
paper were detained for 2 days. Without being charged for any 
criminal offense or being granted a hearing, foreign journalist 
William Keeling of the London-based Financial Times was 
deported after writing an investigative report on government 
expenditure of windfall oil revenues accrued through the 
temporary oil price increase during the Gulf crisis. In 
September the editor of a state-owned newspaper was demoted by 
the newspaper's board of directors for placing an unflattering 
picture of the President's wife on the newspaper's front page. 
The Government and journalists continue to disagree on the 
Media Council Decree of 1988, which still has not been 
implemented because private journalists refuse to participate 
in the council as contemplated under the Decree. The Decree 
establishes licensing and educational requirements for 
journalists. It also empowers the Media Council, to be 
composed of government officials and journalists from 
government and private media, to subpoena journalists and 
require them to divulge sources of news articles. 

Academic freedom, although generally respected, ccime under some 
restrictions in 1991. There were no reports of censorship of 
books or other academic publications or of the intimidation of 
faculty. However, some campus groups allege that the state 
security service maintains an active undercover presence on 
campuses and reports directly to the Government and sometimes 
university authorities on acts or attitudes considered 
threatening to national security. 

The National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS) remained 
officially banned for alleged radical activities. A NANS 
national executive meeting was disrupted by Lagos antiriot 
police in early April. In late April, NANS called for a 
nationwide student strike to pressure the Government into 
meeting demands ranging from ending the Structural Adjustment 
Program to providing guaranteed minimum stipends to all 
university students. There were protests and disturbances on 
several campuses, resulting in three confirmed student deaths. 

Some students and human rights group claim, although without 
strong corroborating evidence, that many of the disturbances 
were instigated by students employed or encouraged by the 
Government to disrupt peaceful NANS demonstrations. In the 
aftermath of the disturbances, the NANS national executive 
officers were detained, and overall approximately 200 students 
were detained. Several schools were closed and student union 
activities were banned or severely restricted by campus 
authorities. Many of the NANS leaders have also been expelled 
or suspended from their schools. 

Violent gang-like student groups popularly known as "secret 
cults" disrupted order on several campuses during the year, and 
the Government took measures to curtail their activities. 
Several hundred students were interrogated by security agents 
and scores were arrested. Campus authorities formed anticult 
boards of inquiry which have suspended or expelled scores of 
suspected cult members across the country. Human rights 
observers and some student leaders assert that the boards did 
not provide fair hearings and that these proceedings were 
sometimes used to remove dissidents and student union leaders 
from campus . 



294 



NIGERIA 

b. Freedom of Peaceful Assembly and Association 

Nigeria's 1989 Constitution assures all citizens the right to 
assemble freely and to associate with other persons in 
political parties, trade unions, or other special interest 
associations. Permits are not normally required for public 
meetings indoors, unless administrative approval is needed to 
use a government facility. Permits are required in many areas 
for outdoor gatherings, but the requirement is routinely 
overlooked by both the authorities and the organizations 
holding the meeting or rally. In most states, open air 
religious services away from a church or mosque continue to be 
prohibited. 

Nigerians form and participate in a wide variety of special 
interest organizations, including religious groups, trade 
groups, women's organizations, and professional associations. 
Organizations are not required to register with the Government 
and are generally permitted free association with other 
national and international bodies. Following violent religious 
disturbances in March 1987, however, the Government required 
that religious groups be sanctioned by either the Christian 
Association of Nigeria or the Supreme Council for Islamic 
Affairs. Only two political parties, both organized by the 
FMG, are permitted. 

On December 18, the FMG rescinded the 1987 and 1989 decrees 
that prohibited hundreds of present and former officials and 
politicians from engaging in political activity or running for 
elective office during the transition to civilian rule. Within 
days of the FMG decision, 13 prominent politicians who had been 
arrested on December 2 for violating the decrees were released 
from custody, and charges against them were dropped. Although 
official language rescinding the decrees had not been 
promulgated at year's end, it is understood that all Nigerians 
excpet those convicted of offenses committed while in public 
office are now permitted to participate in politics, including 
running for election to the National Assembly and the 
Presidency in 1992. 

c. Freedom of Religion 

The 1989 Constitution prohibits the federal and state 
governments from adopting any state religion. This is adhered 
to in practice, though some Christians maintain that Islam 
provides a political advantage and called on the FMG to 
publicly state that Nigeria is not a member of the Organization 
of the Islamic Conference. Constitutional provisions 
guaranteeing freedom of religious belief, religious practice, 
and religious education are generally respected. Nonetheless, 
it is commonly reported that members of one ethnic group may 
discriminate against those of another, and this discrimination 
may take the form of bureaucratic obstacles and delays in the 
construction of churches or mosques. 

Religious publications and travel are unrestricted. 
Missionaries and foreign clergy, though limited by quotas, are 
permitted to work in Nigeria and have not encountered official 
harassment or mistreatment. 

Tensions between the Muslim and Christian communities remain 
high in some parts of the country, particularly the north. In 
Bauchi state, ethnoreligious fighting erupted in April, 
resulting in hundreds of deaths and substantial destruction of 
property in the state capital. Both Christian and Muslim 



295 



NIGERIA 

populations blame government for failing to act promptly to 
quell the violence and both cite instances of police and army 
personnel taking sides in the disturbances. Katsina state was 
also the site of violent religious disturbances in April when 
fundamentalist Muslims, disturbed over what they perceived as 
articles derogatory toward Islam appearing in the state 
newspaper, attacked government buildings and clashed with 
police. Many persons were arrested, and approximately 70 were 
convicted and jailed for various offenses by a tribunal 
established especially to investigate these disturbances. 

In October there was a major outbreak of violence with 
religious overtones in Kano. Gangs of Muslim and Christian 
youths fought running street battles, killing an estimated 200 
persons and wounding many others. There was extensive damage 
to homes and shops. The immediate cause of the violence was 
reportedly a Christian effort (a revival meeting) to win 
converts in this strongly Muslim city. In contrast to the 
fighting in Bauchi, the military intervened quickly, imposing a 
dusk-to-dawn curfew and ordering security forces to shoot 
rioters on sight. A Muslim congregation had been denied 
permission to celebrate an Islamic holiday at the same venue, a 
local stadium, only weeks before. While a Board of Inquiry has 
been convoked, figures on arrests have varied widely, and there 
were no convictions by year's end. 

In the wake of violent disturbances in the northern state of 
Kaduna in 1987, the Government instituted a ban, still in 
effect, on all religious organizations on postprimary campuses, 
while reaffirming the right of individual students to practice 
their religion in recognized places of worship. 

Publication of advertisements paid for by religious 
organizations remain banned, although the ban is not strictly 
enforced, and advertisements occasionally appear in the press. 
Religious programming on radio and television, both government 
controlled, remains limited in some areas. The 1982 ban on the 
Maitatsine Muslim sect, the source of bloody disturbances in 
1982, remains in effect. The group still exists but is closely 
monitored by the police. 

d. Freedom of Movement Within the Country, Foreign 
Travel, Emigration, and Repatriation 

Nigeria's Constitution entitles its citizens to move freely 
throughout the country and reside where they wish. The 
Constitution also prohibits expulsion from Nigeria or the 
denial of exit or entry to any Nigerian citizen. Nigerians 
travel abroad in large numbers, and many thousands study 
overseas. Exit visas are not required. However, the 
Government occasionally prevents travel for political reasons. 
A leading human rights activist has not been able to travel 
abroad since August 1990 when his passport was seized by 
security agents, and security agents in October seized the 
passport of a lawyer active in the human rights community. In 
the latter instance, a December court ruling enabled the 
attorney to retrieve his passport on an interim basis for 
medical travel. Further hearings are to be held on the case. 

Under Nigerian law, wives — including expatriates — must have the 
permission of their husbands to take their children out of 
Nigeria. Security officials in the past have prevented wives 
from leaving with children, but there were no known instances 
of such interference in 1991. Citizens leaving Nigeria have 
the right to reenter. Citizenship cannot be revoked for any 



296 



NIGERIA 

reason. No known penalties have been levied against the 
thousands of Nigerians who have emigrated, settled abroad, or 
acquired another nationality. However, Nigeria does not 
recognize dual nationality, and naturalization in another 
country does not exempt a person from Nigerian laws. 

Nigerian law and practice permit temporary refuge and asylum in 
Nigeria for political refugees from other countries. Nigeria 
supports and fully cooperates with the Lagos office of the 
United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) . The 
country presently hosts an estimated 1,500 refugees each from 
Liberia and Chad. Treatment and repatriation of refugees is 
normally conducted in accordance with UNHCR standards. In 1991 
several hundred Chadian refugees were voluntarily repatriated, 
continuing a practice from previous years. No refugees were 
reported expelled in 1991. 

Section 3 Respect for Political Rights: The Right of Citizens 
to Change Their Government 

The 19-member AFRC headed by President Babangida is the highest 
political authority in the land. There is no nationally 
elected legislative body, and citizens do not have the right to 
change their national government through the electoral 
process. However, during the year, the FMG continued its 
closely controlled program of political transition to civilian 
government. The FMG has dictated the creation of only two 
political parties, complete with political manifestos, 
constitutions, and financing, with the exclusive right to 
compete for public office. One is the National Republic 
Convention (NRC) , the party "slightly to the right," and the 
other is the Social Democratic Party (SPD), "the party slightly 
to the left." Nationwide voter registration programs were held 
in early August. 

The political parties held ward, local government, and state 
congresses to verify party membership lists and help select 
party candidates for state elections. After postponements 
caused by the creation of new states, both the NRC and the SDP 
conducted gubernatorial primaries where nominees were chosen by 
direct vote using an open ballot voting system. Under this 
system, party members cast votes by standing in line behind 
photos of their preferred candidates (the December state 
general elections were also by open ballot.) The FMG announced 
that the open ballot system, after certain modifications, would 
also be employed for the 1992 national elections. Many critics 
claim that the open ballot system subjected voters to coercion 
and social pressure, particularly in rural areas, and, in urban 
areas, discouraged civil servants and business people from 
voting out of fear of losing their jobs or government 
contracts, respectively. 

The two parties engaged in political campaigning and activity 
throughout the year. Generally, their activities were 
peaceful. There were, however, instances of both interparty 
and intraparty violence. While most of the violence was 
limited to minor altercations, there were some fatalities and 
destruction of property. In most cases, the perpetrators were 
never apprehended, but the Government regularly issued strong 
warnings against political violence. 

The October gubernatorial primaries were marred by widespread 
fraud on the part of candidates, party officials, and some 
electoral officials. After weeks of legal and bureaucratic 
tugs of war between candidates over contested results, the FMG 



297 



NIGERIA 

annulled results in 9 states and disqualified 11 candidates. 
In those cases, fresh primaries were held on December 5, with 
fewer reports of irregularities. The gubernatorial and state 
house of assembly elections on December 14 passed with little 
turmoil. There were only isolated reports of violence and 
electoral manipulation. The NRC won 16 of the 30 gubernatorial 
contests, while the SDP gained control in more of the 
unicameral state legislatures. Some of those results may be 
subject to challenge. 

Traditionally, Nigerian politics have been male dominated, 
though women do not face legal impediments to political 
participation or voting, and the FMG has actively promoted 
their involvement. During the 1990 party elections, women in 
various parts of Nigeria, including the traditionally 
conservative north, won positions in the NRC and SDP. In 1991 
there were several women who campaigned vigorously for state 
and national offices. 

Hundreds of former Nigerian government officials, both civilian 
and military, were prohibited from participating fully in the 
transition process until the decree instituting such a ban was 
rescinded on December 18 (see Section 2.b.). Though their 
right to vote had never been denied, they are now eligible to 
campaign and run for office. Many prominent Nigerians from 
across the political spectrum called for the lifting of the 
prohibition. 

Section 4 Governmental Attitude Regarding International and 

Nongovernmental Investigation of Alleged Violations 
of Human Rights 

The human rights committee of the Nigerian Bar Association 
monitors the domestic human rights situation and occasionally 
speaks out against human rights abuses. At least six major 
local groups are active exclusively in human rights matters: 
the Committee for the Defense of Human Rights, led by a 
prominent Lagos physician; the Nigerian Council for Human 
Rights, chaired by a leading Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN); 
Human Rights Africa, led by a prominent Lagos lawyer; the Civil 
Liberties Organization (CLO), led by several Lagos attorneys 
and journalists; the National Association of Democratic 
Lawyers; and the Constitutional Rights Project, headed by the 
former national secretary of the CLO. Nobel laureate Wole 
Soyinka frequently spoke out on human rights issues as did 
various respected political figures and academicians. 

The human rights groups, Soyinka, and, to a lesser extent, the 
Nigerian Bar Association made strong public statements against 
the open ballot voting system, substandard prison conditions, 
police brutality, erosion of the jurisdiction of the courts, 
and, most importantly, the continued use of Decree Two and 
other forms of detention without charge. Some of these groups 
also publicly opposed the FMG's endorsement of former head of 
state Olusegun Obasanjo for United Nations Secretary General. 
A former president of the Nigerian Bar Association, Bola 
Ajibola, who also served as chairman of its Human Rights 
Committee, continued to hold the post of Attorney General and 
Minister of Justice. He has been severely criticized by human 
rights activists for his defense of Decree Two. He was 
nominated by the FMG and elected in December to the 
International Court of Justice despite public opposition from 
many in the human rights community. While most human rights 
monitors were relatively free from government interference in 
1991, attorneys Femi Falana and Alao Aka-Bashorun were detained 



298 



NIGERIA 

and questioned in connection with the threatened national 
student strike in late May. 

The Nigerian Vice President in October threatened two local 
hiiman rights groups after they publicly opposed the Obasanjo 
and Ajibola nominations. Questioning the patriotism of the 
groups, the Vice President said the FMG would act against any 
group receiving foreign funding and whose activities could 
destabilize the Governinent . To date, no action has been taken 
against either group. 

Section 5 Discrimination Based on Race, Sex, Religion, 
Language, or Social Status 

There is no official policy of discrimination against any of 
Nigeria's 250 ethnic groups, and laws do not favor one group 
over another. The 1989 Constitution requires that governmental 
employment and the provision of government services reflect 
"federal character," i.e., proportioning of public employment 
and government services to reflect the ethnic and regional 
distribution of the country's population. The FMG generally 
makes a conscious effort to strike a balance among different 
groups in its decisionmaking and in appointments to key 
government positions. Ethnic and regional hiring quotas are 
observed in most public sector employment. However, Nigeria 
has a long history of tension among its diverse ethnic groups, 
and tradition continues to impose considerable pressure on 
individual government officials to favor their own ethnic or 
religious group. Religious and ethnic favoritism or harassment 
persist. Persons not indigenous to their state of residence 
frequently experience difficulty, e.g., in finding employment 
and enrolling their children in the schools of their choice. 

Women have always had some economic power and have exerted 
influence in Nigerian society through women's councils, family 
connections, and to a much lesser extent, mainstream social, 
economic or political organizations. As primary school 
enrollment increases, girls and young women are gaining greater 
access to education. However, according to U.N. data, females 
get only 27 percent of the schooling of males. There has been 
a dramatic increase in the number of women obtaining university 
degrees and becoming professionals, including teachers, 
lawyers, doctors, judges, senior government officials, media 
figures, and business executives. However, despite some 
economic independence, women suffer discrimination in 
employment and experience social prejudice. 

The pattern of discrimination against women varies according to 
the ethnic and religious diversity of Nigeria's vast 
population. In some states, husbanas can prevent their wives 
from obtaining employment or passports. In many states, a 
woman cannot own property in her own right and as a widow 
cannot inherit her husband's property, which in the absence of 
children usually reverts to the husband's family. Women do not 
receive ec[ual pay for equal work, and male professionals 
receive fringe benefits not extended to their female 
counterparts. Women find it extremely difficult to acquire 
coninercial credit or obtain tax deductions or rebates as the 
heads of households. Single mothers face added 
discrimination. Credible sources report that a highly 
qualified candidate was denied appointment as a trial court 
judge solely because she was a single mother. The Ministry of 
Justice has pledged to investigate this charge. 



299 



NIGERIA 

While violence against women exists, there are no statistical 
data to help determine the extent of the problem. Police do 
not normally intervene in domestic disputes. Reports of wife 
beating are common, especially from rural areas, where women 
are generally uneducated and unlikely to use the legal system 
due to traditional pressures and ignorance of the law. 
Moreover, in very traditional areas it is questionable whether 
the courts would actively intervene to protect a woman who has 
formally accused her husband, if the level of alleged abuse 
does not exceed customary norms . 

The Government publicly opposes female circumcision, which 
reportedly affects close to 50 percent of the female 
population. The most dangerous form, inf ibulation, is stil